On Tuesday, the Prime Minister screamed across the House that Labour and the Greens were backing rapists. Several MPs took offence, but the Speaker of the House ruled them out of order.
On Wednesday, women MPs took action. One by one, they stood to ask for an apology. Each of them said, “Mr Speaker, I have been a victim of sexual assault, and I take offence at the Prime Minister’s words.”
That’s what they tried to say. But one by one, the Speaker ruled them out of order, and one by one, they were thrown out of the House.
You can watch the proceedings here.
All of it is chilling. A powerful man, presiding over the highest court in the country, silencing women who have been victims of assault, and ruling them out of order.
It’s all horrible, but perhaps the most horrible bit is when the Speaker starts cutting the microphone on women who are talking about being victims of sexual assault. Green MP Catherine Delahunty was only able to say, “Mr Speaker, as a victim of sexual assault…” before her microphone was cut. She was literally silenced.
Rape culture in action in our Parliament, promulgated by the Speaker. There are many reasons for people finding it easy to get away with rape and sexual assault in this country, many reasons for the on-going endorsement of rape culture. And one of them is because the most powerful and senior representatives of the ruling National party have made it possible.
I am filled with admiration for the brave women who stood up and talked about being victims of sexual assault, some of them for the first time ever in public. My eyes filled with tears as I watched women I know personally, women I spoke to just a few days ago, open themselves up to criticism and sniggers and sneers (we all know how rape culture keeps on working), because they will not stomach being told that they support rape.
Kia kaha, brave women from the Labour Party and from the Green Party.
Accusing the Labour Party of backing rapists is the latest tactic that the Speaker of the House is allowing to protect a Prime Minister who simply won’t fight for New Zealanders, who wants to pick and choose who he will act for as New Zealanders, and who is determined to make sure that the only New Zealanders he will look out for are the people who are convenient for him.
This Prime Minister has joked about rape and sexual assault, because it’s a convenient way for him to win votes.
This Prime Minister has used rape and sexual assault as a way to attack the opposition, because it’s a convenient way for him to cover up his inaction over New Zealanders being “detained” in Australian detention centres – jails by any other name.
Via the Speaker of the House, this Prime Minister has silenced women who have talked about being victims of sexual assault, because it’s convenient for him not to take any responsibility for his words and actions.
Everything because it’s convenient, and easy, and a quick way out. Too bad if there’s a principle that the Prime Minister might stand up for, something where he might finally take a stand. If it’s not easy, he won’t do it. He has all the moral fibre of blancmange.
Sure, he might be a nice bloke to have a beer with, but you wouldn’t want him beside you in the trenches, would you?