Twenty-nine people have been charged with strangulation since the Family Violence Act was changed just 11 days ago.
Green MP and Under Secretary for Justice, Jan Logie, who was behind new legislation, says the numbers are confronting, highlighting the scale of New Zealand’s problem with domestic violence.
Many victims of domestic violence end up at domestic abuse charities like Shine, searching for advice, help and safety.
But even those on the frontline are shocked to hear 29 people have been charged with strangulation since the reformed family violence law passed.
Shine general manager Jane Drumm told 1 NEWS she’s horrified by the number.
“But I guess I am not surprised. After all these years of working in this field I am not surprised at all,” she said.
Strangulation is now a specific criminal offence, having previously fallen under the umbrella charge of ‘Male Assaults Female’.
It follows research suggesting those who are strangled by their partner are seven times more likely to be murdered.
Jan Logie, who helped design the legislation, says it’s clearly working, but what’s unclear is if it shows violent behaviour is on the rise.
“There’s some indications that there may be an increase, but also hopefully there’s an increase in reporting,” she said.
Of the 29 people arrested for strangulation over the past 11 days, one of them was charged twice. The majority of victims were female and the offenders now face up to seven years in jail.
New Zealand has the highest rate of family violence in the developed world. But 80 per cent of incidents are never reported.
“We don’t know what the outcome will be after these cases have gone to court. So it will be important to monitor to make sure that they are taken extremely seriously. As far as I am concerned, any strangulation is an attempt to kill,” Ms Drumm said.
In the last week, many around New Zealand have been galvanised into a conversation on violence, following the death of 22-year-old backpacker Grace Millane.
“I hope every time we have that conversation we help change the norms in our society that allow the violence to happen. So I am encouraged that so many people have been affected,” Ms Logie said.
The Government’s full plan to reduce domestic violence is expected early next year.
If you need help you can contact Shine on free helpline 0508 744 633, 9am to 11pm every day.
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