Roast Busters outrage 'open season on men'
Rape in NZ: Join the debate
November 2013 was a sorry month for us Kiwis. We were noted internationally as the rape culture capital of the world when the Roast Busters story broke.
Having the annual White Ribbon Day campaign launch on the horizon was just sheer bad luck in terms of timing. A national campaign focusing on violence against women at the same time as a national scandal the likes of Roast Busters is a recipe for disaster.
With so much publicity our collective rage quickly deteriorated into a mob mentality that saw New Zealanders rush to exact revenge for besmirching the honour of young women. A petition was launched that had over 100,000 New Zealanders demanding jail sentences for two boys who had not even been charged with a crime, let alone found guilty.
From widely misreported information to emotionally-charged opinion pieces and politically-motivated blogging came a picture of a depraved society whose men were the feared monsters of old. Anyone who had the misfortune to be born with their reproductive organs on the outside was a potential rapist. It was open season on men around the country.
I am a victim of rape, but I acknowledge that men and boys also have a place in the statistics of sexual violence - as victims themselves. It has long been accepted that one in four women and girls, and one in six men and boys, will be victims of sexual violence. Using these figures and the latest Statistics New Zealand population tables we can reach a figure of approximately 911,678 sexual violence victims in New Zealand at any given time. Of those, 353,245 will be male. Men and boys therefore represent 39 per cent of all of New Zealand's sexual violence victims.
With the problem being politically one of violence perpetrated on women, we focus on the perceived gender of the offenders, and assumed they were all male. In fact, that too is incorrect. Women as offenders is nothing new.
Women sexually violate their sons, boyfriends and husbands - although "rape" is an act that can only be carried out by a male penetrating another person, according to the Crimes Act 1961.
Women beat their partners and kill too, yet it seems like a barrage of abuse is a given reward for anyone who makes any stand for men's rights and male victims.
As a nation we seem to have ignored or marginalised the extent of men as sexual violence victims. We overlook that which we cannot see or hear clearly, and when it's time for funding to be doled out by government agencies, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Men are not included proportionately in this cycle of ignorance.
With no funding to research exact statistics, there are no exact figures and no men's support organisations with sufficient political clout. With no organisations with political clout, there is no subsequent funding.
As a result, men are left to writhe in their pain behind closed doors and a barrier of disbelief. Effectively silenced. Catch-22 from all angles.
View all contributions