Women’s safety an illusion . . .
The death of British backpacker Grace Millane continued to cast a grim shadow over the news scene in the past week, but as it drew to a close the nationwide outpouring of grief included concrete steps offering hope that some good might come from the tragedy.
A group of 50 leading New Zealand women, including former prime ministers Helen Clark and Jenny Shipley and Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright, made a call for a cross-party plan to deal with violence of all kinds against women.
The letter has already had a favourable response from the Government, following the emotional apology from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier in the week.
New Zealand continues to have some of the worst statistics for violence and sexual violence against women in the developed world, and as the letter says, women’s safety is an illusion.
There is a limit to what the Government can do; the only real solution is for men to change their attitudes, and that will not happen overnight.
Although it pales beside the death of Grace Millane, women did make a breakthrough when Kendra Cocksedge won New Zealand Rugby’s Kel Tremain award for the best player of the year. It was another glass ceiling shattered and a significant one in a country where rugby has such a big role.
Elsewhere in the news cycle there was recognition for the threats faced by journalists in many parts of the world when Time Magazine recognised them as the person of the year. That was probably sparked by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but there are many similar cases that have not received the same attention.
Back here there are two mysteries that might deserve the Government’s attention.
Where is the head of KiwiBuild Stephen Barclay, who has reportedly not been at work for six weeks?
And how does ACC justify paying $8 million to Christchurch man Dr Bill Turner for second opinions on cases where a person is being paid for chronic pain? (And consistently use them to cancel entitlements or cover, despite one judge saying the pain specialist is “flying in the face of the medical evidence”.)