Family violence can affect anyone. It happens in every community. It is important we nurture our own cultural identities but it is not OK to use our culture as an excuse for violence in our families.
Family violence can be
Psychological: threats, name calling, jealousy, smashing things, stalking, controlling what someone does, forced marriage, screening someone’s mail, not letting someone go out alone or to work
Physical: hitting, kicking, biting, pushing, strangulation, using weapons, throwing acid, female genital mutilation, being restrained
Sexual: rape or any forced sexual activity, marital rape, unwanted touching, any sexual activity with someone under 16 years old
Neglect: not providing food, shelter, heating or clothing, leaving children home alone, not getting medical attention or social services
Financial: taking someone’s money, running up debts in their name, checking all receipts, pressuring someone to sign official papers (eg immigration papers), dowry abuse
Spiritual: stopping someone from expressing their spiritual or religious beliefs, forcing someone to go to church/temple/mosque, insulting or making fun of their beliefs, forcing someone to eat food they don’t want to or wear something they don’t want to
Family violence is a crime in New Zealand.
Nobody has the right to physically hurt another person. This includes children.
Nobody is allowed to have sexual contact with another person without that person’s permission. Any sexual contact with someone under 16 years old is a crime.
It is illegal to marry if you are under 16 years old. It is illegal to force someone to marry.
Nobody has the right to use intimidation or threats to control another person.
The law protects people in many relationships including married couples, couples in civil unions, gay and lesbian couples, ex-partners, boyfriends and girlfriends, children and young people, flatmates and other people who share accommodation.
Police and other agencies take family violence seriously. They have people who can help. They can arrange for interpreters who speak your language. You do not have to leave your family to get help.
Culture is no excuse for abuse
Here are some things people say to excuse violence:
- "You have brought shame on our family."
- "Young people should obey their elders."
- "You are too much like a New Zealander."
- "You must respect the old ways."
Wherever family violence happens, people have found ways to excuse it. But family violence is not OK in any culture.
We want all families to be safe and happy. If someone is in danger, call 111 for the Police, even if you are not sure.
If you are concerned about violence, there are people who can help or offer advice:
The booklet Culture no Excuse for Abuse is for migrant and refugee communities in New Zealand about family violence and abuse and where to get help. It is available in English, Farsi, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi and Korean.