Law students rally against sexual violence
Law students marched through the streets of the capital, united against sexual harassment. Vice President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA) Isabella Lenihan-Ikin says that when it comes to sexual assault and harassment, enough is enough.
"Enough is enough and that's exactly what we're standing here to say; we don't tolerate this any longer. We are not going to let any more of our students and our graduates come back and share their stories of being sexually assaulted or abused in the workplace."
Fifth year law student and Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) Law Students' Society Vice President Administration and Equity Indiana Shewen said the march was not only a show of support for the cause, but to stand with victims of sexual harassment.
"Today, for us students, is about coming together as a student community to stand in solidarity with victims."
The goal of the protest march is a simple one: workplaces free of sexual harassment. Senior VUW law lecturer Mamari Stephens told media that some of the students in the rally will continue to go to work for major law firms and that today is about their future well-being.
"Ko ētahi o ēnei tauira ka haere atu rātou ki ngā ūmanga nui pēnei tonu ki a Russell McVeagh, ki a Bell Gully me ērā atu, me pēhea ō rātou oranga ki roto i ēnei ūmanga?"
Indiana Shewen says students are seeking that all law firms adopt a zero tolerance approach to sexual assault and harassment in the work place.
"Today we have created a student 'to do list' which we would ask all law firms across the legal profession to adopt, and essentially it comes down to basic things like zero tolerance for sexual violence and assault within any work place."
Another demand made by the students is that victims of sexual misconduct are given support. Shewen explains that it is about ensuring people feel confident that they will be supported and not silenced.
"If we're talking from a student body perspective we want them to know that they have the support there and that there are avenues that they can go down - and that they will not be silenced."
Stephens also echoes Shewen's words.
"Ehara tō tū i te tū mokemoke. Kei kōnei mātou e tautoko ana, e hāpai ana i a koutou. Haramai ki a mātou ngā kaiako o Te Kura Tātai Ture nei, mēna he tauira tō tēnei kura. Kōrerohia mai ki a mātou."
Te Hunga Rōia Māori, The Māori Law Society, has also weighed in on the issue, releasing a press statement, stating that they "will work to ensure a safe workplace culture and provide support to any member affected by sexual misconduct in the legal sector."
The full statement can be read here: http://www.maorilawsociety.co.nz/statement-of-te-hunga-roia-maori-o-aotearoa/