Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Is Judith Collins tough enough?

Back in April this year, the Law Commission consulted the New Zealand public on their review of alternative trial processes for sexual violence.  This was driven by years of awareness that court processes were not working well within the justice system, from those who support survivors, from legal academics who specialise in this area, and from survivors themselves.  The Law Commission proposals were supported by ALL of these groups and more - even high profile defence lawyer Greg King acknowledged the need for reform.

So courts are failing to deliver justice around sexual violence, there's a process in place to review it all, and the suggestions the Law Commission has come up with - after international research into alternatives - are roundly applauded.

The consultation received about 500 submissions, which reinforces how important this issue is to the New Zealand public.  The review began under Simon Power, who said in his valedictory speech that justice in cases of sexual violence was a debate parliament needed to have:
It's our job to tackle the tough issues, the issues the public pays us to front up to, and come to a view on.  There are many debates that Parliament does not want to have for fear of losing votes or not staying on message: abortion, adoption law, children’s rights, and sexual violence issues. I don't share this timid view.

Surely people don’t run for Parliament claiming they want to “make a difference”, only to vote for the status quo, otherwise presumably they would be so satisfied with the way the country was running that they wouldn’t feel the drive to seek public office in the first place.
We need politicians brave enough to "tackle the tough issue" of a failing justice system.  Is the current Justice Minister, Judith Collins too "timid" to follow up on the Law Commission review of alternative trial processes for sexual violence and see this lengthy, considered and well-informed process through?  Is this review going to be pushed into the "Too Hard" basket, waiting until we have a politician who will be brave enough?

Sexual violence is not a political issue in the conventional sense.  It's a community issue, affecting survivors and people who cause harm, their families, friends, lovers.  But we need political leadership to improve our failing justice response, to "make a difference."

If we care about survivors, we need to contact Judith Collins and ask her to be tough enough to push for the changes the justice system needs. 

We need to let her know we are waiting, or we may be stuck with a status quo everyone agrees is an abject failure. 


Moz said...

Interesting approach - I wonder if she'll reply. I'll let you know.

LudditeJourno said...

Thanks Moz, would be good to hear.

Moz said...

"Dear citizen, I am always happy to hear from you. This government blah blah blah"

I can't decide whether it's a completely machine-generated form letter with a couple of context-based paragraphs from a keyword match or someone actually copy'n'pasted it from a set of stock responses. But it definitely does not say "we will be getting tough on domestic violence by doing things that are actually shown to work". And they don't seem to have connected my email to the submission I made either.

M said...

While I support the law commission's proposed changes and a more survivor orientated view of justice, I really object to the gendered language. Asking if a woman is "tough enough" is too reminiscent of traditional reasons provided to discriminate against women. Why can't qualities of empathy et al and a commitment to survivor be the benchmark of success? Personally, I don't think that toughness is the problem for Collins - it's a lack of more 'feminine values'* that would prioritise a more holistic view of justice.
*essentialism unintended

LudditeJourno said...

Hey M,
yep, this way of framing this issue is definitely not unproblematic, I agree. It has only been one way I have written and talked about it, and connects back to Simon Power's statements which I've quoted. It's also about how Judith Collins represents herself, which is definitely about being "tough". Thanks for raising the issue though, LJ