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. – https://womensrefuge.org.nz/
Since publication Women’s Refuge have updated their figures to a call for help every 6 minutes June 30 2015 …..how far the ripple.

What’s in a Vote?

“..with the stroke of a pen in a box; it is one way we share power.”

What’s in a Vote?

First published in The Wanaka App on Sunday, 28th of May 2017.

Amy Pearl.

The by-elections for the Wanaka Ward and the Dunstan Constituency of the Otago Regional Council are under way and voting papers are due to arrive soon in the post. With turnout for by-elections typically as low as thirty percent, now is a good time to consider what comes with a vote.

Voter turnout for local body elections is rarely more than fifty percent, including for mayoral elections, district councils, city councils and community boards. And our General Election turnout has also continued to decline since Robert Muldoon’s snap election in 1984, when David Lange won and voter turnout was at 93.7%.This century, we’ve had five General Elections and, Helen Clark’s win in 2005 aside, voter turnout has fallen below eighty percent.

These statistics are “social indicators”, measures that describe the well-being of individuals or communities; civic freedoms are the cornerstone of a healthy political system, and having people participate in these processes increases a community’s well-being.

Here in Otago, Michael Laws won his Dunstan Constituency seat on the Otago Regional Council by just five votes. Five more people voted for Michael Laws than for his opponent. Five votes gave power and a position to one person over another.  Except in the United States, where President Trump didn’t win the popular vote, or in particularly corrupt nations, do not say that one vote does not count – in the Dunstan Constituency, it certainly did. And is for a Dunstan Constituency seat that we have one of our by-elections, with Ella Lawton and Gary Kelliher the two candidates.

A choice between candidates is a choice between courses of action, between particular visions and directions, between people with varying potential.  One question I ask when voting is, “Each candidate has the potential for what?” I always hope I’ve made the right choice, as a vote carries power. My vote is me giving power to someone, and to that person’s ambitions and aspirations. My values therefore should align with those of the candidate that best demonstrates my hopes for my nation and community’s future. We vote to potentially create a better world.By not voting, the danger is we recreate the legacies we no longer want.

A vote becomes an expression of an opinion, of ideals, of a vision and of hope; voting is a choice, and do question what have we if we have no choice. By voting, we also declare ourselves as a part of a system, our system, where power is vested in the people who freely elect representatives.

Major referendums and elections overseas have more than clearly demonstrated the importance of voting. Most recently, France escaped being led by Marine Le Pen and her National Front Party, defined by its ethno-nationalism. Voters prevented that outcome and the new French President Emmanuel Macron has now named half of his cabinet as women, a mighty Trudeau-esque move contributing to the diversity we need for working democracies.

Consider what is happening in the UK as they head into another General Election, where a potential eight million women may not vote and 57% of young people aged 18-24 didn’t vote in the 2015 General Election. The problem is having a low voter turnout doesn’t make for a fair representation of opinion or a healthy democracy.

The Brexit referendum had a higher youth turnout than for the General Election, with an estimated 64% of registered voters turning up, most voting to remain in the EU. Comparatively, 90% of over 65’s voted, and a majority voted to leave. What would have been the outcome had everyone participated?


(Since UK’s last General Election registration to vote by youth there continue to rise – and do not for a second think that it is New Zealand youth who are failing to use their vote, it’s not that simple. * ) 



“..with the stroke of a pen in a box; it is one way we share power.”



As citizens, the fundamental ability to change our political structures and the outcomes they produce is in our hands, with the stroke of a pen in a box; it is one way we share power. By voting, we participate in constructing an evolving system and the nature of our system changes with the environment we provide. It is easy to see governments and governing bodies as having increasingly limited power with corporate interests gaining a bigger foothold, but let’s continue to seek a real democracy, a truly untrodden road. Alienated citizens don’t thrive where politics aren’t inclusive, which is why we need to rekindle our interest and maintain control of a system of government which belongs to the people.

What would society look like if democracy had its best foot forward? Perhaps voters would be willing, able, informed and uncoerced at elections throughout the world. Perhaps governments would be much more diverse, saturated with the many colours and patterns humanity weaves, and perhaps woven, this rich fabric would find common ground. Ode to the potential.

I was warmed of late to read the enlivening words of Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult urging voters to participate in upcoming elections. The fact that our mayor is urging our district to engage in politics is encouraging, as one of the dangers for any representative system is a disconnect between leaders and the people on the ground. If people at the top are not engaged with the communities they represent, we can expect poor outcomes for the future. I recommend you read QLDC mayor Jim Boult’s message – he talks of diversity, the importance of choice, a strong representative voice and a vote that counts. I wish all our leaders did more to support civic participation and help the people lead through exercising our fundamental rights.

As we slide into unchartered territory with water security, biodiversity stability and economic diversity being just a few of the massive issues we have at a serious crossroads, it’s important to pay attention, as the future will provide its own challenges to further generations and our participation today enacts upon the world of tomorrow. We must ask ourselves when voting, “what position do future generations inherit to enact change and live fulfilled lives?”

Kua roa kē te wā e pōti ana ētahi tāngata – some people have had the vote for a long time, and we know it’s black and white, there is no grey on election day. Let’s not lay idle, let’s continue to vote – for now.

Be sure you are registered to vote and that your information is up to date. The process couldn’t be easier: go to the Electoral Commission’s website (click on MORE below); or fill out a form at your local post shop; or free phone 0800 ENROL NOW (0800 367 656); or text 3676 with your name and address (it’s free).

First published in The Wanaka App on Sunday, 28th of May 2017. (with *supplementary text & links added here – screen shot –  Archillect on twitter @Archillect).

“..with the stroke of a pen in a box; it is one way we share power.”

The Conversation we hope to have.

For a healthy democracy there must be a conversation between those that govern & those that are governed. When there is a disconnect, democracy fails.

Below is a link to a document which contains the contact details of candidates for the September 2017 General Election in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Candidates – Contact details for 2017 General Election Aotearoa New Zealand

 

The document gives links to contact candidates via traditional & modern forms of communication and has links to information on each candidate.

Please feel free to download the information, print or share.

Use of the list by any group or organisation is welcome.

The list has been compiled by Weaving House to assist our candidates and political parties in being easily accessible to the general public – as for democracy to work, it must be accessible.

The document was put together to further enable the conversation between voters and those we share power with – as by voting we give power to the candidate we select.

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Below are the contact details for Political Parties taking part in this years General Election. Please find information for Independent candidates in the Candidates document.

For Political Party Contact Details.

For Party secretary names and contact details.    

“Members of Parliament are your representatives in Parliament.” – There are many ways to contact them and post is still free. The following is a link is to New Zealand Parliament which will offer you further suggestions for contacting Members and Ministers.

New Zealand Parliament Pāremata Aotearoa

Weaving House works to help create a diverse representative systems and to have more Women obtain seats within our government.

Below is a list of Women Candidates running in this years General Election. Find their contact details in the Candidate’s Contact list at the very top of this page.

Women Candidates 2017 General Election.

The following is a link to Associate Professor Jennifer Curtin speaking at our 2016 Convention on ‘Making New Zealand Parliament a Parliament for Women.’ 

 

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The details in each document were obtained from public sources, either from Party websites or candidates biographies. These lists were created to co-exist with the information the political parties provide individually.

The candidates list is mostly complete,  we await the political parties to further update their information.As you are aware, this years General Election is so far defined by a great deal of reshuffling within the parties – The Weaving House will check regularly and update as required.

Feel free to comment or if you are a candidate please email with further or updated information.  If something or someone has been missed, please contact via – theweavinghouse@gmail.com

All information given is to the best of knowledge & collated as a community service.

Women Everywhere Always Vote at Elections

Can we find our nation on one page?  With the many colour and pattern of our weave hopefully we can have a conversation to take us there.