days as dark as nights – domestic violence in New Zealand.

This article was written in 2015 & is being re-released by Weaving House as not much has changed. –
It’s a Woman thing…. days as dark as nights…..domestic violence
Amy Pearl 
What cost domestic violence? The days are dark as nights. Sexual and family violence in New Zealand, as estimated by the Ministry for Women, comes in at a combined 6.5 billion dollars per year.  Each of us would need to pay  $1415 to cover the financial cost of these two specific forms of violence. Women’s Refuge supports a higher figure of 8 billion dollars per year for domestic violence alone.
Most forms of violence are due to friction between opposing groups over resources and ultimately, to control and dominate another or many.  Women fall into both categories and the power relations between women and men are the most fundamental of all social division.
Gendered violence produces itself from structural inequality and inorganic gender roles and remains a pernicious ailment of humanity at its lowest point, a disease eating away at the best we’ve found in social bonds.
 Violence directed specifically at women is endemic across the world; the most prevalent form against women is domestic violence and dozens of nations have no laws against it.
Steadily the number of disclosed incidents rise and police estimate that only 18-25% of domestic violence incidents in New Zealand are reported. There are now close to 100, 000 family violence investigations each year. If we consider that, we can assume there could be a further 455,000 cases that go unreported this year.
Our courts engage with about 20 prosecutions of assault on women by men each court day, 91% of protection orders are made by women and we can currently expect the death of a woman in New Zealand every 8 weeks in a domestic dispute. Women’s Refuge receives on average a call every 9 minutes of every day. 
(recently updated to a call every 6 minutes – 8/7/2015)
There are too many variables muddying the waters for a clear picture to know how invasive this form of violence is. The most basic of assumptions is that the numbers are great and they offer us a minimalist view. A domestic violence case report might only refer to a specific incident or the worst of violent acts.  How hard it is to document torment committed hour after hour, day by day and year by year.
Many women don’t think they can leave and they’re traumatised, enslaved and powerless, they’re broken. Women are too often subjected to wait at courtrooms with their aggressor and go home in fear. Descriptions of torment portray a battlefield with all the weariness and terror of the landscape of war. These are crimes against women, our whole community and humanity.
From the centre of a violent act is the ripple of physical, mental, social or economic strain, lives under duress and generations caught in the repercussions and cycles of violence. One hundred years on and we’re still living with the psychological detriments of the World Wars.  
We can expect nothing less from domestic violence, this trans-national, multi-faceted, never-ending aggression. It is easy to estimate a global wall of remembrance of those women dead by a violent male hand to stretch far beyond the lives of soldiers lost in conventional state run wars.
There’s not enough coverage of any one of the violent acts upon woman. We have to be keyed in or aware of the nuances to bare witness to the reflections of the various forms of violence in our nation and across our world.  Just as the perpetrator of domestic violence needs the veil of privacy and intimacy to hide their crime, society as a whole has been cast in a veil of not knowing.  Somewhere along the line woman’s plight is being muffled.
We need more comprehensive services to protect and assist women in danger especially as trends point to the problem getting worse.  Look to Australia and count the figures, 2 dead women each week, in the UK a woman dead every 3 days, look to India and we lose 22 women a day, the ones we know of, Russia 600 a month.  
New Zealand has won a place on the United Nations Security Council, but what of home security?  What of the international war of domestic terror? Not to be taken seriously when no one earns a penny from this war, women aren’t as precious as oil, trade agreements don’t hinge on a woman’s smacked face and globally it’s still a man’s world.
Women face rights violations in every town and city of New Zealand and funding for safety nets are shamefully scarce.  How is it possible that we close organisations that exist solely to support and protect women and children from violent crime?  How can we let services that prevent women from sleeping cold close their doors? Why is it the services we have must beg for resources?  Without volunteers and donations women would be surviving in a dark hell.
Victims of violence deserve access to specialist independent services regardless of whether they report, regardless of whether they fit a confined criterion and can’t conform.
Science and philosophy state that the two evolutionary tricks humans use to evolve,  are language and cognitive structure; it’s here where society’s perspective on violence needs to change. It’s known that gendered stereotypes promote abuse; condemning a message on the side of a rental van which jokes about drowning ‘the wife’ is a small measure but one that needs to be taken.  
Everyday sexism needs to be expunged by everyone at every level, and women need to be supported when they speak out, not degraded and threatened with rape and violence.
If gender inequality gives rise to violence against women, then that violence is preventable. What’s wrong with our institutions?  What’s wrong with our men?  There must be a cultural deficit, a power complicit with inequality and an assorted box of institutional misdirection and negligence at play.
The recent case of the ‘Roast Busters’ is one example of the cultural deficit and institutional negligence I refer. The murder of the Livingstone  children in Dunedin had red flags flying all the way to the final sad fateful day.
Perpetrators of misogynistic and threatening behaviour need to be challenged by more non-violent men.  National and community leaders need to make the security of women a priority. This is a pressing issue and our nation’s people are being repressed.  Where is woman’s respect?
Our mostly male parliament should begin the process of public denunciation and commit to a world free of gender specific violence.  Each Minister should make a statement denouncing what is a national and worldwide scourge whilst committing the government to turning the tide. Committing to not cutting areas women occupy before ensuring our rights are secure.
Not having state housing available for our most vulnerable is a fine indication of where current values lie and there is no justifiable excuse. What is our collective attitude for prioritising the budget towards social welfare against growing the buck? Money rarely talks compassion.
All due respect should be given the Minister For Women, the position should not be outside of Cabinet as it is today. Leaders of good standards lead by good example. We should never have a Prime Minister that pull’s a woman’s hair.
Socially, the perpetrators of male violence against women need to loose status amongst their male piers for what is unacceptable and criminal behaviour. The conversation needs to change, derogatory remarks usually beget derogatory behaviour, just as violence begets violence and on the story goes.
At what stage do we decide we’re beyond crisis point?  Is it when more than one in three women has violence enacted upon them as they do today?  I’ve heard said  ‘things have changed’ and ‘it’s not like it used to be’, I don’t buy that, it sounds like defeat with nothing laid to rest. 
Women’s Refuge Annual Appeal runs in New Zealand throughout July Please visit their website to donate. –
Since publication Women’s Refuge have updated their figures to a call for help every 6 minutes June 30 2015 … far the ripple.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s