Revelations unlikely in research on rape

Rape complainants need to be treated with respect and sensitivity and have their complaints thoroughly and professionally investigated. What they don't need is more than $1m spent on further research into the issue by New Zealand academics.

This week comes news that the Marsden Fund has granted that not inconsiderable amount to three Victoria University academics to investigate rape culture in New Zealand and why few victims - this is taken as read - go to the police.

Criminology Associate Professor Jan Jordan has received a grant of $610,000 for a wide-ranging study that will analyse attitudes toward rape, and why there are still "alarming" hurdles for complainants after 40 years of change in society.

Her colleagues at Victoria University, associate professors Elisabeth McDonald and Ann Weatherall, have received a $540,000 grant to look at look at the experiences of complainants in the courtroom.

We can pretty much predict what conclusions these academics will reach after many years of self- perpetuating research and more feathers in their academic caps.

Here are a couple to get the ball rolling. One will be that society breeds an attitude which treats women like sex objects - advertising and pornography - and encourages impressionable young women to seek self- fulfillment by trying to live up to degrading male images of womanhood.

Yes, and not many rape complainants have pleasant experiences in court where our system requires the alleged offender's lawyer to ask questions testing the evidence. Wait for the word re-traumatising.

And you are guaranteed to not hear much about people making false complaints.

If we accept, for the sake of argument, the research is needed, does it have to be so expensive? I have often said, possibly even in this column, that when it comes to the social sciences, a good journalist could do in a couple of months what an academic would happily take three years to achieve.

Rape culture - that sort of ends any objective look at whether such a culture actually exists - has been researched exhaustively as have difficulties encountered by complainants in the courtroom.

So here we go again and I for one can't wait for the startling new insights and ground-breaking research.

Election-day law an ass

I was truly shocked to read those stories about high profile sportsmen like Israel Dagg and Jonah Lomu being referred to the police for tweeting political messages on election day.

It is deeply disturbing to hear that Dagg and Lomu between them have nearly 130,000 followers on Twitter. If you listen or read the generally inane comments from professional sportspeople talking about something they actually know about, namely their sport, you will know what I mean.

God help us all when they stray onto any other subject.

At one stage we had quite a few former All Blacks in Parliament. Their major contribution was to the parliamentary rugby team.

I don't mean to suggest Lomu and Dagg have nothing to say but is it really enough to captivate 130,000 people. Intelligent columnists would die - well not quite - for an audience like that.

On the less serious topic of whether they should be the subject of police action over the tweets, Lomu and Dagg have my complete support.

We should thank them because their infractions have shown us just what an ass the law is.

If we are really such sensitive flowers that a hoarding, advertisement or tweet on election day is going to make us stray from our well-thought out political choices, then should we be voting in the first place?

Perhaps it will be said that we all benefit from a quiet day of reflection before we vote. Well we all know voting doesn't work like that. It's usually squeezed in between taking the kids to tennis and doing the shopping.

Time to change the law.

Baches' time has come

I despair to see we are poised for yet more pointless debate about the Taylors Mistake baches.

The council is concerned about the risk of rockfall from the cliffs above the baches and may require the area to be vacated.

Bach owners are naturally anxious they will lose a privilege that should never have been allowed in the first place.

Erecting private structures on public land may have been tolerated at some stage but the activity was never sustainable.

Good on people who had the initiative and cheek to build the baches in the first place but they were always on borrowed time. The families who have had access to the baches have been very lucky but they should not now be complaining if their trespassing is finally brought to a halt.

The Press