15 Sep 2016

No place for strippers at sports events, officer says

8:12 pm on 15 September 2016

Sport-related events involving strippers, such as the Chiefs' end-of-season function, should be banned, a prominent police officer says.

Superintendent Wallace Haumaha.

Superintendent Wallace Haumaha. Photo: Supplied

Last month, a woman known as Scarlette, who had been hired to perform at the rugby team's event, said some players groped her, threw gravel and swore at her.

An investigation carried out by New Zealand Rugby found the allegations were unsubstantiated.

However, following an open letter signed by thousands, including several high-profile New Zealanders, the organisation said it would work with anti-sexual-violence advocate Louise Nicholas to improve its education programmes for players and the broader rugby community.

Superintendent Wallace Haumaha, who is the force's top Māori officer, told the National Conference for Women in Wellington the incident had highlighted deep-rooted deficiencies in male sports culture - deficiencies that he said needed to be stamped out.

Mr Haumaha challenged sports teams to crack down on outdated practices, which he said demeaned women and had no place in modern sport.

"This is a long game. I think having after-match functions where people are bringing in - the type of incident that happened in Hamilton, those sorts of things should be banned, in my opinion. They get people into trouble, and I don't think there's a place for it in sport in the modern era."

Mr Haumaha was the only man on a five-person panel discussing systemic issues in New Zealand culture that were inhibiting the move towards gender equality.

The other members of the panel were: Family Court Judge Mary O'Dwyer; Shakti co-ordinator Mengzhu Fu; Maree Crabbe, who coordinates violence prevention project Reality & Risk; and Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura project manager Sandra Dickson.

Earlier in the day, the head of gender at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua, said the world needed to change its view of feminism if it hoped to take steps towards equality in society.

Asked about the Chiefs' incident - and the lack of comment on the matter from the Minister for Women, Louise Upston - Ms Kinahoi Siamomua said enforcing women's rights was a job for both the minister and society at large.

"I'd expect anyone - it doesn't have to be just the minister, anyone - who believes in fairness, in justice, in gender equality, in a democratic country like New Zealand, to have a positive response to this: that it is unacceptable."

The conference at Te Papa will run from Thursday until Saturday.

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