7 Feb 2019

NZ Cricket, Westpac Stadium apologise to rape protester

6:58 pm on 7 February 2019

A woman who took a sign with an anti-rape slogan to an international cricket match has received an apology from New Zealand Cricket and Westpac Stadium after she was told to give it up or leave.

The sign that resulted in a woman being kicked out of Westpac stadium.

The confiscated sign. Photo: Supplied

The woman, who has asked not be named because of safety concerns, was with a group of fans at the double-header New Zealand verses India matches in Wellington yesterday.

She said six security guards asked the group to leave their seats, because their "no-means-no" banner was deemed to be directed at Black Cap Scott Kuggeleijn, who was found not guilty of rape at a trial in 2017.

Kuggeleijn was about to come out to bat, she said.

As they were being talked to, other people around them in the audience began chanting "no means no" at the security guards.

Her group were taken into the concourse and given the choice to hand the sign over or leave. They asked to talk to a manager, who confirmed the decision would stand, and in the end they opted to hand it in, and were able to collect it after the match.

Another woman from the audience also followed them out and demanded to know why the security guards were taking the banner.

The woman with the sign said the confrontation over the sign was "uncomfortable", but the group's message was current and important, and she was heartened to have been supported by the people in the stands.

"It's a really important message, it's one a lot of people were talking about at the time. We have had the #MeToo movement, we've had a lot of stories about assault or people not respecting boundaries.

"They have signs in the bathrooms [at Westpac Stadium] that say 'don't guess for yes'."

The stadium's manager met with the group this morning and apologised, and the woman said she was surprised at the about-face, but pleased.

NZ Cricket public affairs manager Richard Boock said it wasn't able to get hold of the group, but also unreservedly apologised.

"The message certainly wasn't offensive, so it was a mistake to take that course of action.

"It was definitely seen as targeting Scott Kuggeleijn, and in hindsight it wasn't inappropriate, and should have been allowed.

"We do have a policy at our venues that we don't allow signage targeting individual players, but policies are guidelines... and we should have shown better judgement, and exercised more discretion in this case."

Staff will be briefed so there is no future censorship of similar messages.

Mr Boock said NZ Cricket recently introduced an annual training module for professional cricketers, about sexual harassment, including consent and respect for women.