A number of issues in New Zealand in the past week have made me really sad. I love my country, and it hurts me to see it as a place where children are not safe and also where racism and intolerance seems to be on the increase again. Children being tortured, immigrants being beaten in their own homes and people still have the energy to complain when the newsreaders introduce themselves with "kia ora" instead of "hello."
Last week, a toddler was admitted to the hospital after being tortured by a number of adults in her extended family. The details of the abuse have been hugely publicised, and include the baby being pegged to a clothesline and spun around, as well as being put in the drier. It's hard to type those words, and it became even harder to think about when her photo was published- not just because she was one of the most adorable babies I've seen, but because it made the images even harder to get out of our heads. The baby stayed in a stable but critical condition for a week or so, but died last night.
I'm not going to get into the politics of all of this (it's emphasised much deeper issues in our society here), but I did want to tell the story. This sort of child abuse may be the most hideous, but unfortunately, it's not the only sort. Domestic abuse is a problem across all of NZ society, but we ignore it or blame "them" or we blame the victims.
Nearly 30,000 women and children used women's refuge services in 2006. Whether the sharp increases in use over the past five years are due to increased abuse or increased acceptance of help, I don't know, but I am fairly certain that those 30,000 women and children are a fraction of those who are living in fear. I also know that even 30,000 out of 4 million kiwis is too many. I also recognise that men are not the only problem- women are abusers too.
So, for marathon 2, as you may have noticed from my sidebar, I'm racing for the women's refuge. My sister is running her first half, and we've decided to fundraise together. If you would like to donate, please visit our Fundraise Online site.