Rape and Domestic Violence: Violence against women affected all socioeconomic groups. The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment; however, indefinite detention may occur in cases where the parole board during its annual review believes that the prisoner poses a continuing threat to society.
Domestic violence is a criminal offense. During the period July 2011 to June 2012, police recorded 3,312 charges for “sexual attacks,” resulting in 1,885 cases resolved. During the same period, there were 12 charges of spousal rape with three convictions, and four charges of “unlawful sexual connection with spouse” with no convictions. Police investigated 86,722 domestic violence complaints in 2011 (the latest figures available); of those, 40,024 were classified as actual offenses and the remainder were classified as “non-offense investigations.”
The government’s Task Force for Action on Violence Within Families continued to coordinate a variety of government initiatives to eliminate family violence, including its Te Rito program, a national strategy to address all forms and degrees of domestic violence.
Police were responsive when domestic violence was reported. The government partially funded women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, sexual abuse counseling, family violence networks, and violence prevention services.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): There were no cases of FGM/C reported in the country during the year. However, a 2011 UN report commented that a growing number of women and girls among the country’s immigrant communities had been subjected to or were at risk of FGM/C. The New Zealand Female Genital Mutilation Education Program stated that “there is no documented evidence” that FGM/C occurs in the country.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides civil penalties. However, sexual contact induced by certain threats may also fall under the criminal code, with a maximum 14-year prison sentence. The HRC published fact sheets on sexual harassment and made sexual harassment prevention training available to schools, businesses, and government departments on a regular basis. In the fiscal year ending June 30, the HRC’s disputes-resolution team heard and resolved 60 new human rights inquiries and complaints that cited sexual harassment. Additionally, two cases appeared before the director of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings. In one case the director decided to provide legal representation, and the matter was before the Human Rights Review Tribunal at year’s end.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children free from discrimination, coercion, or violence, and granted access to information on reproductive health. The government did not limit access to male contraception, and contraception for women was available without parental consent to those ages 16 and older. Skilled healthcare for women was widely available, including skilled attendance at childbirth, prenatal care, and essential obstetric and postnatal care.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men. While the law prohibits discrimination in employment and rates of pay for equal or similar work, the government acknowledged that a gender earnings gap persisted in practice, although it was decreasing. According to 2011 Department of Labor survey statistics, women earned more than 90 percent of the average hourly earnings for men.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs addresses problems of discrimination and gender equality, and there is a minister of women’s affairs in the cabinet. The HRC has an equal opportunity employment team that focuses on workplace gender problems. This team regularly surveys pay scales, conducts a census of women in leadership roles, and actively engages public and private employers to promote compensation equality.