Editorial: Attacks fuel concern in the community

One of the sinister impacts of two attacks on women in the past week is the alarm and fear it spreads.

Before police had officially given details of the second attack - against a woman on the Maitai River walkway - emails were already circulating about it, advising women not to walk alone in the area.

Five days earlier an 18-year-old woman was raped in Queen's Gardens in the early hours as she was walking home from a city bar.

The victim in the second incident was also walking alone when she was dragged under the Normanby bridge. She showed remarkable courage to fight back, punching the man and breaking free from the sexually motivated attack.

The two scenes are only about 100 metres apart, and there are some similarities in the description of the attackers, leading police to investigate the possibility that one person is responsible.

Beyond the awful physical and psychological toll on two innocent women, the crimes are also disturbing for the wider community.

Ideally, women should be able to walk the streets of Nelson, or any New Zealand town, at night without fear of being assaulted, but reality argues against it.

Police and other authorities have spread the common sense message for some time that women should not be left to find their own way home alone after a late night out.

A disturbing factor about the second attack is that it happened about 10pm, hardly a late hour.

The two incidents follow the brutal, daylight New Year's Day rape of a volunteer in the Victory Community Gardens for which a man has been arrested.

They are hopefully an isolated cluster of violence. Police figures for the year ending in June last year showed a jump in sexual assaults in Nelson Bays - almost double the offences in other provincial centres such as Palmerston North. The vast majority were resolved.

Nelson acting police boss Ross Lienart is offering reassurance to residents that they are safe, and is backing that up with extra patrols in the area until the offender or offenders are caught.

Let's hope that happens very soon.

Another blow for sport

In a week when sport's good name was given a thorough beating across the Tasman, along comes a boxing "match" to deliver another low blow.

Sonny Bill Williams' victory against Francois Botha in Brisbane ended in farce and confusion over the number of rounds it was scheduled for.

Now comes the revelation that the the South African had a banned stimulant in his system.

It was the last thing sport in Australia needed after a high-level inquiry uncovered evidence of widespread use of illegal drugs, and potential match-fixing in the country's professional codes.

Among the points you can't deny is Williams' talent across multiple sports and his ability to draw controversy wherever he goes.

The Nelson Mail