Rape and Domestic Violence: According to a 2016 government report, one in three women reported having experienced physical, sexual violence, or both by an intimate partner. 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 the prisoner poses a continuing threat to society.
Domestic violence is a criminal offense under the law. Police were responsive to reports of domestic violence. In July parliament passed the Domestic Violence Victims Protection Bill, which provides victims of domestic violence with 10 days paid leave per year. The government partially funded women’s shelters, psychosocial services, rape crisis centers, sexual abuse counseling, family-violence victim support networks, and violence prevention services. Victims’ programs include a new crisis response plan for victims in the 72 hours after a sexual assault; programs to reduce harmful sexual behavior, offending, and reoffending; programs focusing on adults who pose a risk to children; and services for male survivors of sexual abuse.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides civil penalties. Sexual contact induced by certain threats may also fall under the criminal code, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. The HRC published fact sheets on sexual harassment and made regular sexual harassment prevention training available to schools, businesses, and government departments.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The law prohibits discrimination in employment and rates of pay for equal or similar work.
Birth Registration: Children born in the country attain citizenship if either parent is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the country. Children born outside the country attain citizenship if either parent is a citizen born in the country. The law requires notification of births by both parents as soon as “reasonably practicable,” deemed as being within two months of the child’s birth, and most births were registered within this period.
Child Abuse: A March academic report found that, by age 17 years, nearly one quarter of children had at least one report submitted to child protection services, and almost 10 percent had been a victim of abuse or neglect, while 3 percent had gone into foster or other care. A disproportionately high number of reported cases of child abuse involved Maori children. The government promoted information sharing between the courts and health and child-protection agencies to identify children at risk of abuse.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 20 years for both men and women, but persons between 16 and 19 may marry with parental permission. Marriages involving persons younger than 18 were rare.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides that any person who has a sexual connection with a person younger than 16 years is liable to a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Further, the law makes it an offense punishable by seven years’ imprisonment to assist a person younger than 18 in providing commercial sexual services; to receive earnings from commercial sexual services provided by a person younger than 18; or to contract for commercial sexual services from, or be a client of, a person younger than 18. The law also makes it an offense to traffic in persons younger than 18 for sexual exploitation or for forced labor. The courts may prosecute citizens who commit child sex offenses overseas.
At least three cases in the courts involved child sexual exploitation and resulted in convictions during the year.
The law prohibits child pornography and provides for a maximum 14 years’ imprisonment, as well as maximum individual and corporate fines of NZ$200,000 ($137,000) if a person produces, imports, supplies, distributes, possesses for supply, displays, or exhibits an objectionable publication. The Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit polices images of child sex abuse on the internet and prosecutes offenders.
Institutionalized Children: In February, Prime Minister Ardern announced the creation of a Royal Commission–the highest level of governmental inquiry–into the historical abuse of children in state care. The Royal Commission is tasked with focusing on physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect, as well as systemic bias based on race, gender, or sexual orientation during the period 1950-1999.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.
The Jewish community numbered approximately 7,000, according to the 2013 census. While anti-Semitic incidents were rare, in July media reported anti-Semitic posters and leaflets being distributed in two cities. The New Zealand Jewish Council said anti-Semitism was increasing, particularly online.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. The law prohibits the government from discriminating based on physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disability, unless such discrimination can be “demonstrably justified.” The government effectively enforced applicable laws. Most school-age children with disabilities attended either separate or mainstream schools.
Approximately 20 percent of eligible voters had a disability and faced obstacles to exercising their electoral right. The Electoral Commission has a statutory obligation to administer the electoral system impartially and seeks to reduce barriers to participation by developing processes that enable citizens with disabilities to access electoral services fully.
The HRC and the government’s Office for Disability Issues worked to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. In addition, both the HRC and the Mental Health Commission continued to address mental disabilities in their antidiscrimination efforts. The majority of complaints and enquiries about unlawful discrimination received by the HRC in 2017 concerned disability issues, both in government legislation, policy, or practice and in private workspaces.
Pacific Islanders, who comprised 7.4 percent of the population, experienced some societal discrimination and had the highest rates of unemployment (13.1 percent) and lowest labor-force participation (61 percent), compared to the rest of the population. Asians comprised 12 percent of the population and reported some societal discrimination.
Several government ministries, such as the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Ministry of Health, had programs to identify gaps in delivery of government services to Pacific Islanders and to promote their education, employment, entrepreneurship, culture, languages, and identity. The Office of Ethnic Affairs within the Department of Internal Affairs focused on improving dialogue and understanding about minority communities among the wider population.
Approximately 16 percent of the population claim descent from the indigenous Maori. The government bestows specific recognition and rights, enshrined in law, custom, and practice, to the indigenous Maori population.
The law prohibits discrimination against the indigenous population, but there were disproportionately high numbers of Maori on unemployment and welfare rolls, in prison, among school dropouts, with elevated infant mortality statistics, and among single-parent households.
Between July 2017 and June, the government enacted legislation that settled three claims for commercial and financial redress by indigenous groups (“iwi”) relating to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, the country’s founding document. The government continued active negotiations with almost all iwi who were in various stages of the claims process.
Although Maori represented 16 percent of the country’s population, they comprised 50 percent of the prison population and 43 percent of persons serving community-based sentences. The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Maori Development, along with Maori community partners and NGOs, continued to implement programs and services to reduce Maori recidivism and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law does not criminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults. The law prohibits abuse, discrimination, and acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the government generally enforced the law. During the year, approximately 1.6 percent of discrimination complaints received by the HRC related to gender identity or sexual orientation.