27 March 2023
To Prime Minister Chris Hipkins,
Accountability, please. 

I liken the counter-protest during the Let Women Speak event to a pack of frenzied rabid dogs frothing at the mouth.

I attended the event on Saturday to represent and speak up for women; it was an event about women, by women for women. What I witnessed was an attack on women. No matter what people thought about Kellie-Jay, her event was a free speech opportunity to listen to the concerns of a sex that feels let down and vulnerable in their spaces and that's why I was there.

The counter-protest from the trans community was an attack on another protected group - women. It shows that women are clearly not protected. Abusing women for their opinion is nothing to be proud of. The crowd celebrated in a frenzy when their intimidating behavior forced the handful of women remaining on stage to seek safety.

Prime Minister, whilst there was a crowd from the rainbow community, I know there will be as many, maybe more, from their community who were disgusted by the display of hatred, intimidation, and vitriol that was directed at a very small group of women yesterday.

The more important concern I wish to convey, is my utter disgust and disappointment with the role of government officials. The government ministers who are servants of all NZ should be ashamed of themselves for enciting one group against another. Will they be held accountable for their role in encouraging the abusive behaviour towards women on Saturday? I would like you, as Prime Minister, to uphold the decency and standard of behaviour expected of all Members of Parliament

The government is there to protect and serve all New Zealand individuals and groups without compromise and bias, and yet members of your government have enabled one protected group to trample on the rights of others. Trans people get accolades and praise for their courage. Women who stand up for the safety of themselves and their children get ridiculed and abused. How is that for equity and inclusion?

I was stationed on the rotunda where I witnessed a war on women by many males. 

It was unsafe for us. Many in that crowd were there to hear from the women, many of them were abused, spat on, intimidated, and threatened. I have messages and emails from those who were attacked. There was a moment when I wondered how I was going to get from the rotunda to safety. If it wasn’t for the assistance of a handful of men who had accompanied me to the event I hate to think of the harm that could have been inflicted on myself and on other women we helped to get out of harm's way. 

As if violently silencing women was not enough the event also used by one of your Ministers, Greens Co-Leader Marama Davidson, to attack our boys and men.  I have two sons and I hate to see them subjected to the racist man-bashing tirade she was spewing. It was putrid and an assault on my senses and I feel for every male, who will be looked at like public enemy number one when it comes to violence. 

How are our men going to develop when they are constantly blamed for the sins of others instead of being respected for all the good they do? 

Marama Davidson should stand down for the following reasons:

1) for her male-bashing, stating all violence is caused by men

2) for her racist comment that violence comes from white men

3) for her misuse of power and influence

4) for her unprofessional frenzied rant

5) for using the event to attack a vulnerable group in society who are calling for protection, and last but not least,

6) for using her position to pit one section of society against another in such a divisive way.

Considering Davidson is minister in charge of family violence, I would have expected her to have a rounded knowledge of research before making derogatory remarks about one sex. As explained by Dr Neville Robertson of the University of Waikato, "many studies have shown that in the context of heterosexual relationships, women are as violent as men. These studies typically use measures such as the Conflict Tactics Scale, which ask respondents how often they have used specific acts of violence against their partners – and/or how often their partner has used those acts against them". Why then has Davidson stated that all violence is from males? Even more outrageous, why blame everything on white males? This is blatantly false.

The latest research on unreported sexual violence reveals that almost 30 percent of New Zealand adults experience intimate partner violence, or sexual violence, at some point in their life. There’s been no significant change in the level of crime in New Zealand in the past five years. Is this not an important discussion that we need to have as a society? With this in mind, how can you justify the blasé dismissal of women’s concerns around abuse and the violent suppression of an event held to highlight these concerns?  Why would you condone the counter-protest on Saturday not only silencing women’s voices but also adding to victimisation of women through violent and intimidating behaviour - women, many of whom have already suffered from previous trauma? Please, do the right thing for these women. 

Co-leader New Conservative Party

Helen Houghton