Tuesday, 23 April 2013

I want to hear the All Blacks say It’s Not OK

SaveaAll Black - and pin up boy for the anti family violence It's Not OK campaign - Julian Savea has just been charged with common assault after the Police went to his house to deal with a domestic violence incident.  He says:
"I will say my partner and I had an argument, I did some things that are wrong, that I shouldn't have done, and I apologise for that."
We don't know what happened yet, but we do know Mr Savea has been ordered by the Judge to have no contact with his partner until the case is settled, including not visiting their home.  Common assault carries a maximum sentence of one year.

Julian Savea is 6 foot 4 and weighs 108 kg, a man trained to be as strong and physically hard as possible.  Someone that size belting you would be terrifying.

We don't know what happened yet, but we do know that physical violence in relationships is often just one aspect of controlling behaviour, and that the impact on children - whether they are the ones being assaulted or not - is significant.  Mr Savea has a one year old baby.  So far, the only conversation about this baby seeing/hearing/being around their mother being assaulted by their father is whether Mr Savea will be able to see them regularly.

Related LinkWe don't know what happened yet, but we've been told quite a bit about this case.  Not from the victim - we know her name and that's all.  But the media have been busy, garnering quotes and background material to help us know what's going on.

Mr Savea's parents, though acknowledging they don't know anything about the incident, are sure it couldn't have been 'particularly violent'.  The incident that "landed the All Black in court would not have been any more serious than a push," they say.

The Hurricanes Chief Executive, Mr Savea's boss, says:
"Obviously, we are disappointed to have this situation emerge, but we must now let the judicial process run its course."
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew is also disappointed:
"We were very disappointed to learn of this incident and Julian's subsequent charge. We appreciate this is a distressing time for all those affected and we are also helping support the family.....
"Without judging the rights or wrongs of this case, we are concerned that this is another incident involving a young player.  We need to find out whether we are doing enough to help these young men cope with the pressures of the professional game."
Precisely no one around Julian Savea is naming what he did as a problem.  It's disappointing the situation emerged, that we learnt about it, that he was charged.  But the common assault itself?  Pah, not particularly violent.

Steve Tew is right to point to some problems with rugby culture.  Julian Savea is not even the only current or recent All Black to have gone to court after being charged with domestic violence.  Sitiveni Sivivatu and Adam Thomson have both faced charges in recent years.  (Thomson was found not guilty because his partner told the court it wasn't as serious as her initial call to the Police and the independent eye-witness accounts suggested.)

I'd like to suggest something the All Blacks could do, if they really want to be seen as taking violence against women seriously.  Stop making excuses and create a serious consequence.

Men found guilty of violence against women should not be able to represent New Zealand in any kind of sport, ever again.

When you play sport for a country, you're representing an imagined community.  You stand for something, a cypher of belonging, creating a solidarity with other people purely on the basis of place.

That's not possible when you commit crimes of violence against others.  Men who bash their partners should be unable to be All Blacks, or Black Caps, or Black Sticks, or Tall Blacks or any other kind of athlete which means they represent people from this place.

Because if you bash women, you don't represent all people from this place.

I don't care if those sportsmen still get to play professional sport.  It's a different argument for me.  But I don't want to see another All Black representing me with a violence conviction for using their huge, muscular bodies to hurt their partners and get what they want.

I doubt I'm alone in that.  So come on All Blacks - is this OK or not?


Brett Dale said...

Its disgusting with what has happen.

Having his hurricane teammates going on the news saying "he's a good guy"

Having the media saying his employers should've supported him more.

Having the head of the NZRFU suggest that he still should be allowed to play.

Well good guys don't hit woman.

Also the way the media has handle this story is nothing short of sinister.

Where are the Journalists coming out ripping into this player.

Lets face it, if your a Rugby Union player you can do what you like.

Do people here really think if this had been a Rugby League player that assaulted his partner, the media would've treated the story the same, of course not, there would've been outrage and rightly so.

There is so way this guy should be allowed to play, in fact he should be in jail, not having his face on TV.

He is a woman beater, who deserves no respect and no sympathy.

B. said...

While I do not in any way condone violence towards anyone, particularly women, I am disturbed by the gathering lynch mob seemingly hell bent on crucifying Mr Savea.

The charge is Common Assault. Are people aware that no actual physical violence needs to occur in order for a charge of common assault to be laid? All that is necessary to satisfy the requirements of this charge is for the victim to feel that he or she is in danger. We also know from police statements that Savea's partner did not need any medical assistance. We do not know the facts, we should not rush to judgement.

That's why we have the courts.

Brett Dale said...

He has admitted it, and it appears it was a physical assault.

The fact that she didnt seek medical attention is not the point.

I dont think there has been a lynch mob at all, in fact I think its been the reverse, he has had his employers and friends standing by him, the public is misplacing its sympathy.

The media needs to take a long hard look at itself.

LudditeJourno said...

Hey B - no lynch mob here, just pointing out the privileged, minimising approach the media, the NZRU, the Hurricanes and Mr Savea's family have taken.
And Common Assault means this:
"assault means the act of intentionally applying or attempting to apply force to the person of another, directly or indirectly, or threatening by any act or gesture to apply such force to the person of another, if the person making the threat has, or causes the other to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose."
Your comment makes no sense based on the way this case is being presented so far.

Hugh said...

I can't wait for the 'rugby is not an innately violent sport' crowd to show up. 1... 2... 3...

K said...

Hiya B - thanks for pointing that out b/c I didn't know that.

The coverage so far shows Woman's Refuge airing their concerns + the predictable protective response we've become familiar with which IMHO is an improvement over what it would have been in the past...are we starting to win?

Tonights coverage on the news will be very telling. If it is the boys club combo of a forced apology followed by "the game is what is most important" then we are back to the same old shit. ANYTHING has got to be an improvement on that.

K said...

*sigh* I take it back because I just found this: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10878933

- Rugby players losing battle with "demons" (ie something outside of their control / God's control)
- rugby stars "predisposed" to suffering mental health challenges due to anxiety, relationship stress, lonliness...
- Steve Tew orders an enquiry to see if the NZRU are doing enough to cope with the pressures of the game (see, it's not actually the players fault they hit partners, it's the game!)

Richard29 said...

New Zealand is in serious need of it's own Jackson Katz. Here is some background on the MVP anti violence/sexism bystander intervention program for sports he helped develop in the US:
If the NZRU is serious about helping address the crisis in NZ masculinity they should be throwing their full support behind getting programmes like this running in every rugby club and high school in the country.
The problem is not that we don't know what works - we do, there are some fantastic resources out there for tis kind of education. The problem is not that we don't have the resources - this country lavishes money on sports, especially rugby. The real problem is that we don't want to admit there is a problem.

LudditeJourno said...

Hey Richard,
completely agree - there are similar programmes operating in Australia too, and there have been preliminary attempts by specialist dating and sexual violence prevention groups here to set up similar work here.
The messages of It's Not OK are fabulous, and it's important to see those things "championed" - but when they are not connected to actual learning for rugby players or other male athletes, you get the problem we have here. Men being given constant messages of entitlement and limited ideas about what it means to be a man, combined with having bad/abusive/violent behaviour excused as being about stress etcetc is a recipe for disaster. I would LOVE to see proper dating and sexual violence prevention work done with sports codes here. Combined with real consequences for offending in terms of losing the right to represent your country.

ain't that the truth said...

"I want to hear the All Blacks say It's Not OK".

Then I will know for sure that it is true.

AnneE said...

Everything the All Blacks management, team and coach are doing is telling Savea that it is okay.Some recent quotes:

"We've had other players, unfortunately, in the same situation and . . . we believe they are better off in the environment, carrying on with their work and getting on with their lives."
"We're rugby players and we just get on with things and I know it is a very private matter. I talked to him earlier in the week and then left him to it. And I think that's the way the rest of the guys have been as well." So now he's off to South Africa. Nothing to see here...