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Women’s Refuge tainted by activist element

Filed under: Domestic Violence — Barbara Faithfull @ 1:39 pm Fri 8th October 2010

During the 1996 Women’s Refuge annual fundraising week, Paul Henry, (then) talkback host on Radio Pacific, commented on the disquiet many people feel about that organisation’s political activism. Barbara Faithfull, secretary of the (now defunct) Credo Society Incorporated, wrote to support him.

Dear Paul,
Re Women’s Refuge Movement

Congratulations on your comments on the above yesterday morning; i.e. in your mind, at least, “they are tainted by a sort of activist element” etc.

This is very true. In fact this movement is more than merely tainted; it is an ideologically-driven lobby covertly working for revolutionary social change, while striving to convey a public image of all that is noble, wholesome and socially acceptable.

The recorded comment you played of Refuge’s Maria Bradshaw (for this, their annual fundraising week) was to my mind typical of the negativity and twisted thinking of these people. She also mentioned that they had been operating in NZ for 23 years — i.e. from about 1973.

I’d like to make two points.

Women’s Refuge: ‘a tactic towards liberation’

Are you aware of what NZ Women’s Refuge was really set up for? Here is a quote right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak : from the book He Said He Loved Me Really, by three Auckland refuge workers in 1979, Jenny Ruth, Bronwyn Banks and Joy Florence :-

“Halfway House (as they were called then) was conceived by some Auckland feminists as being a tactic towards our liberation. Basically we wished to attack the institution of marriage, and salvage what womanity we could in the process.” etc.

I could give you similar quotes from the USA and their equivalents to our activists here. Over there it is known as the shelter movement. We are greatly mistaken if we imagine that the motivation behind such a movement is purely with honourable intentions, yet these never seem to be questioned by the news media, and the refuges get huge amounts of public money, as well as collecting much in the community.

Feminist agencies limit women’s choices

When you said “There is no one else that will fill that role” (i.e. of Women’s Refuge) I had to disagree, as I shall shortly explain. It has concerned me for years that the gender feminist-based women’s refuge movement has long sought to convey just such a public perception, and in the process to monopolise this area of do-gooding, or “corner the market” as some might term it. After all, the greater the number of “clients” they can chalk up, the greater the funding they can command, and the more they can prove a need to justify their existence, with resultant power of course.

Even other aspects aside — and there are many — a most disturbing thing that I see here is that, generally speaking, women in need of refuge help are kept in ignorance of the fact that there is an alternative to the feminist-based ones, viz of church-based refuges and helping agencies, which traditionally have abounded throughout the country and which are still widely available.

The grim fact is, however, that they are being muscled out of contention by the “new sisters on the block” so to speak. Not only this, but the “new sisters” are not declaring their bona fides to the public; they are not saying “we are anti-Christian, anti-male, anti-family, and we’re following a politically correct line that sees all women as blameless and all men as rapists and wife beaters” etc.

Worse, the “new sisters” have been skillful enough to now have the Government and the Police on-side with them, thus affording them an aura of absolute credibility and utmost respectability. Moreover, their contact details are given out by Police and other statutory bodies as a matter of course. It would be rare indeed to have church-based agencies so publicised.

As well as not being made aware of the radical nature of the refuge movement, then, the average woman in need of such help is certainly unaware of the long term ramifications which can ensue because of Refuge’s radical philosophical stance. Such as, an obsession to automatically isolate the woman (and perhaps children also) from her husband/partner. No possibility is entertained that there could be two sides to be heard in the matter etc. By contrast, while the family’s safety would of course be paramount, a church-based agency would be inclined to also involve the man in counselling where possible, and to consider what might be done for them as a family, and what factors might have led to the present problems.

So generally speaking, women in need of refuge assistance are not only being denied an informed choice about which sort of refuge to turn to. They are even being kept in the dark that they actually have any choice at all of agencies to turn to, other than that which is constantly being publicised and promoted.

We of Credo say it is time such women had a fairer and more honest deal; that they were given a choice, and an informed choice in the matter, and too bad if the refuge movement’s funding and reputation suffered accordingly. They should be able to sink or swim on the basis of their own merit and not require to be constantly propped up by deceitful and artificial means.

We say for too long they have been politicizing the misery of domestic violence and exploiting it to ideological advantage. The same occurs with rape/sex abuse agencies; church-based agencies help here also, but we never hear about them! They are rarely seen listed in the fat little Government-backed helping agency directories.

Barbara Faithfull
23 July 1996


  1. Now I have an answer to a question of mine. Why are they doing this? Women’s refuge destroyed my family. They alienated my wife
    and mobilized all the might of the state to achieving that: The Family Court and their ring of abuse specialists providers: lawyers, psychologists, Barnardos, Relation Services, GPs, Hillmorton mental health institution…

    Comment by tren (Christchurch) — Sat 9th October 2010 @ 10:24 am

  2. Well done Barbara for having the courage to document this.

    Comment by Gerry — Wed 13th October 2010 @ 11:36 pm

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