Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter is defending Justice Minister Andrew Little after he was accused of trivialising sexual assault.
The National Party has excoriated Mr Little in Parliament this afternoon for describing an indecent assault on a corrections officer as a pinch on the bottom.
However, Mr Little said the opposition was deliberately mischaracterising his comments.
The comments were made in the midst of last week's three strikes debacle, and Mr Little raised an example he felt showed the unfairness of the law.
"The member may well be aware that earlier this year, a High Court judge in Auckland was dealing with an offender charged with indecent assault - in fact, convicted of indecent assault," he told Parliament.
"The actions comprising that offence were pinching the bottom of a prison officer."
National said to describe an indecent assault in this way trivialised the offence and undermined the victim.
However, Mr Little stood by his statements in their totality.
"This particular offending was offensive, unwelcome and totally unnacceptable. And I also stand by my statements to the effect that the consequence of that offending should not have been seven years' jail without parole."
National's justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell said the minister had repeatedly minimised the assault.
"Does he acknowledge that the victim in fact had her buttock grabbed hard and held by the offender, and when she tried to get away, the offender followed her and grabbed a gate to prevent her from leaving," Mr Mitchell said.
"Which left her in her own words feeling totally degraded, vulnerable and uneasy when performing her work duties."
National then turned its sights on the Minister for Women Julie-Anne Genter - with Paula Bennett picking up the question line in Parliament.
"Does she believe it is trivialising sexual assault in the workplace when the Minister of Justice calls a woman at work who is grabbed on the buttock, then followed and intimidated, as merely a 'pinch on the bottom'?"
Ms Genter defended Mr Little.
"I agree with the Minister of Justice when he says indecent assault, including the case the member is referring to, is insideous and unnacceptable, and I won't ask the minister to apologise for raising issues with our broken criminal justice system," Ms Genter said.
Ms Genter said she had every sympathy for the victim and both she and Mr Little took it very seriously.
As such, she would not be asking Mr Little to apologise.
"I believe that the minister is doing very good work in ensuring that women have greater access to the type of justice and the type of support that they need from this government," she said.
Mr Little has shelved his plans to repeal the three strikes law - but will reveal other changes to the justice system later this year.