10 Sep 2016

Chiefs Scandal: Plea for NZ Rugby to act on promises

2:31 pm on 10 September 2016

The Sexual Abuse Prevention Network hopes New Zealand Rugby follows through with its promises to improve players' attitudes towards women in the wake of the Chiefs' stripper scandal.

07092016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. New Zealand Rugby will not take action against individuals but has cautioned the Chiefs after investigating allegations players abused a woman performing as a stripper. NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew

New Zealand Rugby head Steve Chew has said the organisation was revisiting its approach to the culture around the game. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

New Zealand Rugby says it will be working with anti-sexual violence advocate Louise Nicholas to help educate players and the rugby community following the scandal.

Yesterday in a statement made through her lawyer, the woman, who is known as Scarlette, said she did not want the matter re-investigated or to lay a complaint with the police.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network general manager Fiona McNamara said her wishes must be respected, but it was crucial New Zealand Rugby learned from how poorly they handled the situation.

She said it was a big mistake to have their in-house lawyer conduct the investigation into the matter.

"It's not a genuine inquiry if they're having their own lawyers doing it. Those people are there particularly to look after the reputation of New Zealand Rugby so having them investigate makes no sense at all.

"The way that the whole inquiry was run really gives the impression that people can get away with this behaviour, and I think that it gives the impression that if people are in power, they will be protected. A better inquiry should have been conducted in the first place," said Ms McNamara.

The union now has an opportunity to lead a culture shift within New Zealand sport, she said.

"What we need to see now is some action from New Zealand Rugby, and they need to be making it really clear that they're taking steps to change the culture within their organisation.

"This isn't just a one-off incident, we've heard reports of similar incidents that have happened before, so we really need a comprehensive culture change within that organisation," she said.

Fiona McNamara said the network had offered to help to train players and staff about sexual violence, respect and consent.

"[They need to] make sure everyone who is involved with their organisation understands what happened, and why that kind of behaviour is a problem.

"They need to ensure that people are learning about consent, about respect and respecting women's bodies, and ways that they can interact with people in the future and make sure nothing like this ever happens again."

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