Monday, May 29, 2023

Francesca Rudkin: Recent cautionary tales show why we have to hammer home consent for men and women

This week I found myself shocked, angry, and saddened by what I read in the news.

You’d think as you get older, with all we’ve been exposed to, that there’s not much left to shock us with? In a way I’m glad I can still be taken aback. It’s a sign I’m still an optimist, think the best of people, and haven’t become totally cynical about humans and the world we live in.

But one story this week really hit home and reminded me that while most people are good and decent there are some truly despicable ones out there too.

I’m, of course, talking about the two Christchurch brothers and hospitality workers, Roberto and Danny Jaz. You all know the sordid story by now - they were convicted of almost 70 of the 113 charges they faced at a six-week trial earlier this year. Their names were released this week after a 5-year name suppression order was lifted.

The siblings are facing up to 20 years in prison – sentencing is in July - for charges of rape, sexual violation, indecent assault, stupefying, disabling, making intimate recordings of women without their knowledge or consent and supplying illicit drugs.

It’s enough to make you want to lock your daughters up. Unfortunately that isn’t legal either.

But this case, and other stories of women’s drinks being spiked in bars in Wellington, are brutal reminders that no amount of conversations about consent is going to stop some people drugging and abusing others - but we have to keep at it.

Some roll their eyes when it comes to talking about consent. They feel there’s too much of a focus on it in schools. I must admit I’ve rolled my eyes when experts talk about teaching our children consent from birth.

But cautionary tales such as this are why we have to hammer home the consent message to men and women.

As horrifying as this story has been, I also found some things to admire.

Bravery rules. Women stood up and came forward, put their lives on hold and went through the arduous and harsh trial process. We’re all better off for what they did and I hope they’re receiving the support they need.

A thorough job has been done by police and the prosecution to bring this case to court. It’s one of the largest prosecutions of its kind in New Zealand and considering the number of victims, and others, involved in this case a slip up in name suppression was always a potential issue. Avoiding a mistrial as well as the result will be a relief.

And finally, the magnitude of criminal activity will hopefully stop people judging the victim’s decisions. To make a difference we need to continue the prevention ‘keep-yourself-safe’ messages for women; but equally, we need to amplify the same messages to men around alcohol, drugs, women and respect.

The abuser is always at fault, but realistically we all need to take responsibility to stay safe.

Francesca is a well known film reviewer, writes for NZ Herald's Timeout magazine, and contributes to Jack Tame's Newstalk show. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

This case represents one example of real of human tragedy. Thank goodness the voices of the women were heard and acted upon.

Anonymous said...

Like everything in NZ this took a lot longer than it should have.
Names suppressed for 5 years. I hope the key is turned and then thrown away.
Vigilante justice has been applied already in Prison.
Ladies must always be vigilant and we must educate our daughters to the dangers. We are never guaranteed safety.