‘There is no excuse’: Hundreds turn out to protest against sexual violence in Wellington

Hundreds have taken to Courtenay place to rally against sexual violence and call for safer streets in the capital.

Their message is clear, enough is enough.

The #LetUsLive: Rally for a City Free From Sexual Violence comes after swathes of recent reports highlighting the issue of safety in Wellington.

Earlier this month The Herald revealed the number of sexual assaults in Wellington had increased by nearly 50 per cent in the past five years.

The Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, Marama Davidson, spoke at the rally and told attendees Aotearoa can be a place free from all forms of violence.

No matter what state people are in, no matter how much alcohol they have drunk and no matter what they are wearing she said no one is entitled to sexually abuse anybody.

Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence is behind the rally, it encompasses a collection of charities including Thursdays in Black and Victoria University Student’s Association, among others.

Throughout the evening protesters joined in chants calling for safer streets, and now, many holding placards echoing the sentiments of frustration shared by the speakers.

Wellington City Councillor Tamatha Paul also spoke, she called for more funding for services to help the situation and committed to making Courtenay Place safer.

“Sexual harm is something that isolates us, it makes us feel alone, I have experienced this and to every survivor out there I see you, I believe you.”

She told attendees she was sick of representatives “scapegoating” homeless people for issues faced by the city.

A nod to a terse exchange between Davidson and Wellington-based National MP Nicola Willis in Parliament earlier this month.

Davidson accused Willis of being “racist and classist” after Willis shared her concerns about safety in the capital and highlighted increased emergency housing and gang presence.

Students Journey Marment and Ella Thomas were at the rally and said sexual violence was a significant issue in Wellington.

“It’s not fair that we don’t feel safe in our own community,” Marment said.

Fellow students Ella Lamont and Sophia Harrison, shared an emotional poem detailing gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment.

The pair are the creators of an informal survey that had gathered more than 2600 responses just days after being posted to Wellington Facebook page Vic Deals.

Tonight’s protest is the first in a series of events for the collective, which has three requests for the council, the New Zealand Government and Hospitality NZ.

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