Support the women of Christchurch on International Women’s Day

  • Hekia Parata
Women's Affairs Earthquake Recovery

A rise in domestic violence is likely to add to Christchurch’s misery, says the Minister of Women’s Affairs Hon Hekia Parata.

Ms Parata urged those at a breakfast she hosted at Parliament this morning to mark 100 years of International Women’s Day, to be prepared for an increase in violence following last month’s devastating earthquake.

“The international evidence is that domestic violence increases after big natural disasters and the increase may continue for up to a year.

“This is not acceptable. Domestic violence is not acceptable at any time.’’

Ms Parata said the likely increase, and the fact that support services are themselves badly affected by the disaster, could mean added misery for some Christchurch women and families.

“When I was in Christchurch just a few days after the quake, I met with Women’s Refuge and they are really struggling. At that stage only one of Refuge’s five houses in Christchurch was operational.

“Services are struggling to recover from the immediate impacts of the disaster and to provide anything like the pre-quake level of support to family violence survivors. They certainly are not resourced well to cope with the expected increase.”

Ms Parata said she hoped that the reported rise in family violence would not continue and she urged those affected by the disaster to continue to be aware of the potential for increased violence and to seek help quickly if it occurred.

Her message to other New Zealanders was to recognise the need to support the women of Christchurch would continue for months after the quake had ceased to be front-page news.

"We need to be there for those women, and for organisations like Refuge, in three months, and six months and twelve months as well as today.''

She also praised the efforts of women’s organisations after the earthquake.

“There have been some simply wonderful stories of help, including offers of accommodation from women’s organisations around the country and even an offer from a Rural Women New Zealand member in Rangiora to look after animals from Christchurch.''

The Minister said that there was also a lot to celebrate on International Women’s Day.

“New Zealand women have achieved huge gains in the past 100 years. We need to celebrate that progress and renew our efforts to ensure we continue to increase the participation of women in leadership roles across the economy; to reduce the damaging impact of violence against women, and to ensure that all women can be fully engaged in the economy and contribute to the country’s economic growth.''