MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday 27 September, 2022
Layba Zubair, creator of the consent law reform petition, will formally deliver its 12,177 signatures to parliament with supporters calling for reforms to New Zealand’s antiquated laws. The petition reflects an outcry from young people about the need for an affirmative definition of consent.
“The current state of our consent legislation is failing both survivors and communities. It has been encouraging to see significant growth in the movement for consent law reform, and we hope that Parliament takes this opportunity to bring the law more in line with public expectations of sexual behaviour,” says Kathryn McPhillips, Executive Director of HELP Auckland, a charity providing specialist sexual abuse survivor support services.
“This petition calls for clear and affirmative consent laws to keep our youth safe. Reformation of the law will allow us as a country to take a step forward towards creating a safer Aotearoa and contribute to creating a system that supports survivors of rape and assault. We are calling for legislation that will provide a clear positive definition of consent and recognise the need for free and voluntary agreement at the time of the act. This will better reflect healthy sexual relationships and assist people to know consent must always be present,” says Layba Zubair.
The petition handover has been organised by the Dear Em team, Wellington Rape Crisis, Wellington HELP, RespectEd, Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence, HELP Auckland and Thursdays in Black. The Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Marama Davidson, will receive the petition outside of Parliament. A number of MPs from across the different parties have also confirmed their attendance to witness the presentation of the petition.
“The presentation of the petition to Parliament is an opportunity for the community to rally around this cause and amplify the call for change. Without clarity in the law about what constitutes consent, it leaves some people confused, thinking that it is OK to do sex to another person without consideration of the physical and emotional impact of their behaviour. If the law clearly defined the importance of free and voluntary agreement at the time of the act, it would support the social changes that young people are calling for” says Kathryn McPhillips.
Ruth Davy-Fundraising Manager, HELP Auckland