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Pacific Island Community in New Zealand: Domestic Violence and Access to Justice

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 14 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2003 Pages: 423-446
Susan J. Wurtzburg
Date Published
September 2003
24 pages
This study examined problems in the implementation of the New Zealand Domestic Violence Act of 1995.
A recent survey of 5,000 New Zealand households revealed that a small group of people, mainly Maori and Pacific Island women, bear the brunt of most of the domestic violence offenses in New Zealand. However, there is evidence that Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand face challenges when attempting to exercise their legal rights concerning domestic violence. This study focused on those challenges by examining whether the New Zealand Domestic Violence Act of 1995 increased the safety of Pacific Island women living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Research methodology included formal interviews of 76 people, 50 women and 26 men, and approximately 5 years of participant-observation at a battered women’s shelter in Christchurch and 2 years of participant-observation at a local organization that offered programming for violent men. The research focused on the interplay of beliefs and behaviors concerning gender, ethnicity, domestic violence, and conflict resolution. Results of the data analysis indicate that Pacific Island women face challenges exercising their legal rights as a result of their gender, language, religion, and family structure. As such, the author concluded that ethnicity and gender influenced access to and implementation of the New Zealand Domestic Violence Act of 1995 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Women were clearly more disadvantaged than men, and women who spoke English as their second language were doubly disadvantaged. Members of the police and legal profession have a responsibility to increase their understanding of the differences in legal protection experienced by various groups of people. Notes, references