18 Dec 2018

'Really sad' women are still harassed, five years on from Roast Busters

10:08 am on 18 December 2018

A woman who set up a website for people to anonymously share stories of abuse five years ago says it's sad women are still being sexually harassed.

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Photo: Women's Refuge

The #MeToo movement swept across the country this year after explosive revelations about lawyers' behaviour at a prestigious firm.

In 2013, it was revealed a group of teenage boys - dubbed the Roast Busters - were boasting online about having sex with drunk girls, some of them under-age.

The news sparked outrage - an online petition calling for the Prime Minister to make changes ensuring justice for rape victims was signed thousands of times.

Crowds marched in protest. A website - I am Someone - was set up by Meg de Ronde for victims of sexual abuse to share their stories.

"Like many women at that time I was really sad and literally angry at what was happening," Ms de Ronde said.

Meg De Ronde, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International New Zealand

Meg de Ronde Photo: Supplied

This year, similar sites were set up by students and lawyers in the wake of New Zealand's Me Too moment.

It's sad women still needed to start discussions about sexual harassment, Ms de Ronde said.

"You know, I look back and this was five years ago and it's just sad that women keep having to say these things and women keep having to have that conversation but it is fantastic to see some of the professions actually have to take stock and do a little bit of house cleaning," Ms de Ronde said.

The public outcry following the killing of British backpacker Grace Millane showed some progress had been made, Ms de Ronde said.

Grace Millane

Grace Millane went missing from Auckland at the start of December. Photo: Supplied / Facebook

"We've really seen people push back about any kind of victim blaming narrative and I think that in itself is progress," she said.

The Sexual Abuse Prevention Network works with communities to prevent sexual violence. Its general manager Fiona McNamara said their work-load had increased this year.

"We've had a huge increase in demand for prevention education and training across a lot of different parts of our community. So that's been demand for sexuality and consent education in secondary schools and also for workplace sexual harassment and also bullying prevention," Ms McNamara said.

It was not just the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network that had seen a rise in numbers.

Since the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment began collecting information on sexual misconduct in July, it has had 88 calls.

ACC had received just over 8,700 sexual harassment claims this year - double of what it received five years ago.

Greens MP Jan Logie says the work environment needs to be safe for victims to tell their employer what’s happening.

Jan Logie Photo: supplied

Despite the rise in numbers, Ms McNamara said a lot of work still needed to be done.

"We need to see social change being driven to make sure that our society is safe for survivors of sexual violence and ideally that it isn't happening anymore," Ms McNamara said.

In June, the Australian Human Rights Commission launched a national inquiry into workplace sexual harassment. The investigation would be a year-long and in-depth examination of workplaces.

Undersecretary for domestic and sexual violence Jan Logie wasn't convinced a national inquiry was needed here.

She said a lot of work was being done.

"We've had a couple of really prominent reports into the [law firm] Russell McVeagh and Human Rights Commission that give us some really good guidance. And there's a lot of people who are doing a lot of work on the ground and my intent is for that work to be brought together into the strategy so we don't have to wait for another inquiry, we just start doing the work," Ms Logie said.

It would take a lot of time and there was a lot of work to do to eradicate sexual harassment, Ms Logie said.

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