So now we have Rape Crisis, brought to you by Hell’s Pizza. Fantastic. What next? McDonald’s Women’s Refuge? Coca Cola Save the Children?
Hell, why stop there? Why not invite companies that make fast food in to fund our state agencies too? KFC could come to mean Keystone Fcuking Cops if we only open our minds to the beauty of public-private partnerships.
I’m not going to bother with why posting a “joke” about a man sexually assaulting another man and giving the person disclosing they are in fact a perpetrator of unlawful sexual connection (highest penalty 20 years in jail) an actual PRIZE for being a rapist is a problem. Hell’s Pizza launched this revolting little piece of excusing sexual assault on Facebook, where people are still letting them know in spades that this was not ok. But predictably – because this is Rape Culture© we’re living in – lots of people are also making comments about the funny, either because the victim is a man, or because, Hell, all sexual assault is funny, right?
I’m also not going to bother with why Wellington Rape Crisis is accepting their money. Why the Hell shouldn’t they? Doing so is the only thing that makes sense in a world where you cannot pay your staff and you have people calling you asking for help to not kill themselves, to get out of bed in the morning, to help you stop the gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing, madness-inducing flashbacks you are having of being sexually abused or assaulted. It’s not letting Hell’s Pizza off the hook for promoting Rape Culture© to take their money and train their staff to understand and prevent sexual violence. It’s making sure your agency is open as often as it can be, to help as many survivors as possible. If you want Hell to pay, go donate to WRC, and the pizza company will match you, dollar for dollar.
It’s the context I’m interested in, the reason we’ve got to hoping enough people order take-aways to make sure rape survivors get the phone answered if they need to cry with someone.
I’m not down with pretending the problem is this Government. Sure, National have slashed funding for survivor counselling, down to 3.6% of those who apply. And sure, even though the Law Commission website tells us the work that’s been going on since 2007 to improve the justice system for survivors is still on track, Minister Judith Collins has started being a little more honest in her correspondence. Her letters responding to queries indicate she might be wanting to shelve this, because the changes proposed are “significant,” and need “careful consideration.” (Was the Law Commission’s year-long research not careful enough?)
But underfunding the agencies which provide life-saving and enhancing services to survivors of sexual and domestic violence is not just at the door of this government. In the 1980s, we had more than ten specialist Te Kākano agencies funded by government to work with Māori rape survivors and whanau, more than twenty specialist Rape Crisis groups, four Sexual Abuse HELP groups, and a Rape Crisis National Office which could represent the needs of survivors to the Government.
By 2004, both Te Kākano and Rape Crisis had seen their funding slashed, with fewer than half the agencies able to stay open. And Rape Crisis National Office was gone, while the numbers of survivors trying to get help went up and up and up.
Agencies with support survivors have to run on the goodwill of volunteers, all over the country. This continues to be one of the most terrifying aspects of Rape Culture© – that successive New Zealand governments care so little for survivors of sexual violence, we don’t even pay the most skilled people we have – for both female and male survivors – to help them be safer. We pay Police Officers and Child Youth and Family social workers of course – who are working with the same people – we just don’t pay those workers who get up at 3am to listen to a survivor’s nightmares, or sit in court with a survivor for days, helping them deal with the indignity of having their life picked apart while the man (in 99% of cases reported to the Police, it’s a man) who raped them sits smugly in silence.
Because we don’t pay our survivor agencies, we need takeaway companies to step in. That’s what a fcuked up mess our last thirty years worth of governments have presided over. So Hell’s Pizza – I’m not a fan and doubt I ever will be – but members of parliament, it’s about time you listened to your communities. More and more people are reporting sexual violence to the Police. More and more people are trying to go to services which are running on the goodwill of volunteers.
Don’t leave it to Hell to pay. Fund survivor agencies properly, for all the work they do, NOW.