Wednesday April 13 2011
New Anti-Abuse Laws May Penalise Women
Te Kupenga – the National Network of Stopping Violence – is concerned that new laws aimed at preventing child abuse may
unfairly penalise women.
The Government is fast-tracking legislation to further protect children from assault, neglect and ill-treatment. The
bill creates a new offence of failure to protect a child or vulnerable adult knowing they are at risk and will apply to
anyone over 18 living in the same household or closely connected with the family.
Te Kupenga is a network of 39 independent community-based organisations – from Whangarei to Invercargill – working to
end violence and abuse in families.
National manager Brian Gardner says any strengthening of the laws which protects the most vulnerable members of society
While the proposed law may hold accountable household members who do not notify authorities of abuse, Mr Gardner says it
fails to acknowledge that there are many reasons why women stay with someone who has been violent towards them or their
“Family members who are experiencing physical, sexual or psychological violence are often scared, frightened, threatened
and intimidated as well as feeling ashamed and isolated from their support networks.
“Women stay in abusive relationships because they take his threats very seriously, are often fearful of the inconsistent
responses of the justice system as well as Child, Youth and Family, and may not feel safe to report the abuse to the
“Te Kupenga welcomes legislative changes to make perpetrators accountable but the Government needs to ensure that people
are informed and feel safe to report abuse – that it is okay to ask for help.”
For more information about Te Kupenga, go to the website www.nnsvs.org.nz