Category Archives: New Zealand

‘Hey Bro’: New Zealand abusers turn activists to stop domestic violence

Matiu Brokenshire from ‘0800 Hey Bro’, a hotline in New Zealand aimed at helping abusive men, talks on the phone in his home in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo courtesy: Tanith Petersen/He Waka Tapu

WELLINGTON, Matiu Brokenshire once threw an axe at his partner in anger. Today, the 45-year-old works with a service credited with stopping hundreds of domestic violence cases in New Zealand, helping other men like him.

The 0800 Hey Bro hotline has provided advice to about 2,000 abusive men and linked them to other services to stop them harming their partners.

“I started the journey to uncover my own trauma,” said Brokenshire, who also works with New Zealand Police on tackling family violence.

“I grew up in a world where this was normal. My mother used to strap me when I was a child and hit me. I was a victim of domestic violence for years,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Brokenshire, who is indigenous Maori and has a son with his former partner, said he struggled with his violent behaviour and drug addictions – until he got help eight years ago.

“When I met my son’s mum, she was an angry, broken person and in the first three months, I had committed violence against her. Then it became weekly,” he added.

Since starting a new chapter, he has joined a growing number of men, some of them ex-abusers, working to stop domestic violence in New Zealand.

‘HORRIFIC’

New Zealand has long had a progressive reputation and was the first nation to give women the right to vote in 1893.

But women’s rights campaigners say sexism, drug and alcohol addictions, poverty and exposure to violence as a child have all contributed to a poor record on domestic violence.

Police investigated more than 133,000 family harm cases in 2018, the latest year for which data is available, and were called out to respond to a family violence incident every four minutes.

“Domestic violence is one of the biggest problems we have in New Zealand and we know it affects educational outcomes and creates mental health problems,” said Janet Fanslow, an expert on family violence.

“We haven’t got our heads around prevention,” said Fanslow, an associate professor at the University of Auckland who is working on a government-funded study of 3,000 men and women.

“All we have invested in this moment is response. We are still waiting for people to get hurt. We need to recognise the importance of engaging men as they are mostly the perpetrators.”

There were 230 family violence deaths between 2009 and 2017, official data shows, half of them caused by an intimate partner.

A government-commissioned report in April cited limited support and a lack of professionals to deal with abusive men as among the reasons why violence continues – a gap that some former abusers are now trying to fill.

“Nobody is working with perpetrators,” said Lua Maynard, 56, who runs anger management programmes for men who are ordered by the courts to undergo rehabilitation.

“When men perpetrate violence, they ask the men to get away, and support the victims. But men also need support.”

Maynard, who was previously charged for hitting his partner, called for efforts and solutions to uncover factors that could have led to a man’s violent behaviour, such as childhood trauma, abuse and unemployment.

“You can’t recover if you haven’t uncovered those issues,” he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden had said New Zealand’s record of family violence is “horrific”, and her government has introduced a slew of measures to end the problem.

In May, it announced an allocation of NZ$200 million ($132 million) over the next four years for frontline services working on family violence issues.

In 2018, New Zealand joined a handful of nations that passed a law granting domestic violence survivors 10 days of paid leave to give them time to leave their partners, such as finding new homes or attending court hearings.

Women often lose their jobs when they flee domestic abuse, while many stay with abusive partners due to financial concerns, according to women’s rights campaigners.

‘BOYS DON’T CRY’

The April report studied nearly 100 cases of abuse by men in which one partner died. It found most had sought help previously, but support services missed warning signs and opportunities to stop the violence.

The study, by an independent committee that advises the government on reducing family violence, recommended greater support services for both women and men.

“We do feel it is important to reach out to men, and that there is work to be done in that space,” said spokeswoman Susan Barker at Women’s Refuge, a Wellington-based advocacy group that runs safe houses for women and their children.

“There are organisations that do this, perhaps not enough, and many of these could use further funding,” she added.

Others say it should all start from promoting gender equality and tackling male stereotypes, to stop domestic abuse.

The White Ribbon Campaign, a global group of men and boys seeking to end violence against women, launched a social media campaign recently, urging men to reject stereotypes such as ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘toughen up’.

“We flipped those ideas of masculinity on its head and ran campaigns that said, it’s ok to cry – open up or be the man you want to be,” said Rob McCann, New Zealand manager for White Ribbon.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200804231217-pw0t5/

Suspected New Zealand mosque gunman pleads not guilty

Christchurch killingsOfficials said Tarrant was fit to stand trial following an assessment of his mental state [File: Reuters]

Christchurch, New Zealand – The man accused of killing 51 people during a shooting spree in March at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, has pleaded not guilty to all charges levelled against him.

A lawyer for Australian-born Brenton Tarrant, 28, said on Friday his client pleaded not guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 attempted murders and one charge of committing a terrorist act. This is the first time a terrorism charge has been brought in New Zealand.

Tarrant was not in court in person in Christchurch; instead he appeared via a video link from a maximum-security prison where he’s being held in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.

Throughout the half-hour hearing on Friday, Tarrant – wearing a plain grey top – stood looking slightly up at a camera positioned above him.  He did not say a word during the hearing.  He nodded once to acknowledge he could hear the judge, and at times smirked.

When his lawyer entered the ‘not guilty’ pleas on his behalf, he grinned and – at one point – winked at the camera.

Fit for trial

Tarrant, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, is suspected of acting alone during the March 15 atrocity – New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting.

He is accused of using modified semi-automatic weapons to massacre Muslims at Christchurch’s Al Noor and Linwood mosques during Friday prayers. The attack was live-streamed from a head-mounted camera.

New Zealand’s government tightened the country’s gun laws in the wake of the attack and has said it would review laws dealing with hate speech.

It has also supported international efforts to ensure that social media giants to do more to combat online “extremism”.

More than 100 family members of victims – and a few people who were shot but survived the attacks – were in court.  Most, throughout the hearing, looked intently at the screens showing Tarrant.

At the last hearing on April 5, the court had ordered Tarrant to undergo a mental assessment first to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.

The judge, Justice Cameron Mander, said the accused’s mental state had been assessed and he was fit to stand trial.

“The court endeavours to bring serious criminal cases to trial within a year of arrest. The scale and complexity of this case makes this challenging,” Mander said.

Because of the volume of evidence the prosecution and defence will have to consider, that trial will not take place until May 4.  It is expected to last at least six weeks and possibly as long as three months.

Tarrant has been remanded in custody until August 16 when a case review hearing is scheduled.

Mander barred news outlets from taking photographs or video of Tarrant’s appearance, although he said images from an earlier hearing in March could be used.

‘He will pay’

On the steps of the court after the hearing, people injured in the attacks, and relatives of those killed gave their reactions to what they’d seen and heard.

Temel Atacocugu was shot nine times and attended court on crutches.  On Friday he said: “He [Tarrant] is going to be the loser. We will win. He will pay for what he’s done.”

Janna Ezat whose 35-year-old son Hussein Al-Umari was killed in the attacks said she wanted to see the death penalty for Brenton Tarrant, if he is found guilty.

“This is the only way. In this specific case he has to be killed. [If] he killed [more than] fifty people. He has to be killed.”

New Zealand abolished the death penalty in 1989 and has not executed anyone since 1957. If found guilty, Tarrant faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The people killed in March’s attacks came from more than a dozen countries and their relatives speak a variety of different languages. The court had translators on hand for many and, both before and after the hearing, community representatives explained what would happen, and had happened in court. Even so, some were confused at why the trial won’t take place until next year.

“It was totally not explained,” said Didar Hossain “Why can’t the case be finalised within six months? That would be good for us.

Hossain described himself as heartbroken. “I lost my uncle” he said, “and all my friends”.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/suspected-zealand-mosque-shooter-pleads-guilty-190613233346021.html