UN Complains About Racism in NZ Justice System but Ignores Sexism
A powerful UN group has been visiting New Zealand as reported mainly on radio, as described here and here. Unfortunately the NZ journalists didn’t spell the UN group leader’s name correctly.
MoMA sent the following letter to the UN and plans to follow up with some media releases concerning this.
9 April 2014
To Mads Andenas, Chairperson, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Dear Mr Andenas
During your visit to New Zealand this month you have highlighted the high rate of imprisonment for our indigenous Maori population and you have challenged the NZ government to investigate and stop racial bias in our justice system.
Your challenge was commendable. However, why have you ignored the much greater bias in New Zealand’s justice and corrections systems, that being gender bias against men?
As a proportion of NZ’s total Maori population approximately 0.73% are imprisoned, this percentage being 9.13 times greater than the percentage of Europeans imprisoned.
However, as a proportion of NZ’s total male population, approximately 0.37% are imprisoned and this percentage is 18.5 times greater than the percentage of women imprisoned.
The evidence for gender bias comes not only from rates of imprisonment. At least one good research study published in the prestigious journal Criminology uncovered routine gender bias in the operation of our justice system (see Jeffries S, Fletcher GJ, Newbold G (2003). Pathways to sex-based differentiation in criminal court sentencing. Criminology 41(2), 329-354). Further, New Zealand has no crimes that are race-specific but several that are gender-specific. One is ‘Male Assaults Female’ that can only be committed by males (there is no ‘Female Assaults Male’ offence but ‘Common Assault’ carries only half the sentence available for the male-specific one), another is ‘Sexual Violation by Rape’ that can only be applied to males, and another is ‘Infanticide’ that only women murderers of young children can be prosecuted for and for which they face very lenient maximum sentences whereas any male who committed exactly the same violence would be liable for life imprisonment.
Why would you only challenge New Zealand’s racial disproportion in imprisonment but not the much greater gender disproportion? Are men considered so worthless by the United Nations that discrimination against them will just be ignored?
Ministry of Men’s Affairs (A community group because successive governments have ignored the voice, rights and welfare of New Zealand men)
Thanks for your advocacy!
It will be interesting to see what kind of response (if any) is given.
Please keep us posted of events as they unfold.
I agree that UN seems to be going a bit overboard on sexism as in seeing only women as possible victims.
I suggest that the imprisoned males in one sense are the lucky ones?
Our prisons are largely mental hospitals without satisfactory treatment available (although this is very slowly getting better). In addition to arbitrary detention, as a result of judges lacking knowledge of mental health issues and risk management, many prisoners die by suicide in prison (or by murder by other inmates – to a lesser extent).
Although the UN Committee is focussed on arbitrary detention eg in prisons and police custody, driven to suicide is a form of indefinite detention. In addition to the loss of years of life, the family of the suicidee lose a great deal too, in terms of parenting and security.
When suicide as an issue is considered, then why should the analysis be restricted to suicides in prison?
In NZ, like most western countries, men’s suicides exceed women’s by a factor of 3 or 4 times. Many social commentators (including myself) view suicide rates as a fairly sensitive indicator of society wide cultural and social policy health.
On this analysis, the plight of men in western countries should not be viewed as needing no further investigation. An average man may have a slightly higher income than an average woman, but measures of how we treat our most downtrodden women and men – are not measures of mean, but measures of the many outliers in or out of our society.
Consideration of suicide and social policy quality tends to fall between UN mental health and UN economic equity initiatives and as a result seems to drop into the cracks between the two and be forgotten.
I recall Mr. Bevan Berg patiently explaining to me, what needed to be established to prove a human rights discrimination case. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully understand the issues in one sitting.
He was right, we need to be better skilled at understanding these issues and pushing forward well documented complaints. There is a lot of bureaucracy involved, such that in practical terms, it is nearly impossible for an individual citizen to do. You need to be rich enough to follow through with all available appeals within the country, yet it is incompatible with good parenting of children, to waste such money on caught appeals. There are further Catch 22 issues as well.
However, although an individual might find it extremely difficult to make a successful UN human rights complaint, if people work together, then it might just be possible.
An example of a partially successful complaint, was by a Wanganui father, accused by his ex-wife of sexually abusing their children.
Hans, while your at it, ask the UN to pull NZ into line with Personal property protection rights and compensation for seizure – as per the UN conventions on Property ownership…..
as we are noticing – the newly proposed Child Support – PENALTY TAX industry – will force parents to sell or have seized their personal property when they cant meet the demands of COST OF LIVING TAX to be forced on BOTH PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, and anyone else with property or wealth that can be ravaged under the guise of Child Support.
As we all know here – nothing in this system actually HELPS parents or kids – NOTHING.
Several years ago, a minor party tried to have amendments made to the NZ Bill of rights to expand Property protection and provide compensation – to all NZ citizens, and that request was denied – the private members bill was thrown out……… contravening the UN mandated requirements and guidelines to protect personal property of a nations citizens – now why would be do that ………unless these is corruption in power to refuse to protect the people ……Life liberty and the right to own property are all you have in life……if that cannot be protected and a govt refuses to protect it, what does it say about your govt and its officers???
Sadly as we are all seeing in the new corporate communist take over of nations – personal property rights of citizens are being systematically stripped away and removed…..using the climate and environmental controls and excessive COMPLIANCE demands – to force change on people……..
Which explains why our Constitution is being changed in SECRET – the Constitution DEFINES all your RIGHTS – Secrecy is Tyrranny and those who promote it to force change – are traitors to the NZ way of life……
TAC have criticised USA for using prisons as holding cells for the mentally ill, to hide the lack of sufficient places in mental hospitals. This is particularly serious, as little or no mental health treatment is available in the prisons and inmates often become worse for the lack of humane treatment.
Whilst NZ is not as dangerous as USA in terms of harsh imprisonment policies aimed at men, there is a substantial amount of truth that NZ is doing similar. Given the sexist sentencing policies, these underfunding problems impact onto men, much more than onto women.
Men are more at risk from the more serious mental health problems. Partly this is genetic, XX versus XY. Thus a higher degree of imprisonment of men than women might be expected, but nothing like the ratio of 10 to 1. The genetic issue might suggest that up to 2 times more men than women would be expected to be hospitalised or jailed, rather than the 10 to 1 ratio observed in NZ.
What then results in the 10 to 1 ratio of imprisonment of men to women?
Partly our court’s behaviours (really judges) in terms of breaches of natural justice, tend to give positive reinforcement to convicted persons with anti social personality disorders. The court’s sexist behaviours result that this positive reinforcement is experienced much more by men. This ends up reinforcing the judge’s perceptions that what they are doing is “right”, rather than socially destructive of men in particular. This is exactly what MoMA is drawing attention to above.
Partly it is a result of mothers (with mental health problems) tending to maltreat boys more harshly than girls. Mothers are often less willing and less able to constructively discipline boys.
Also sexual abuse of underage boys is a denied and hidden problem too, resulting in a significant contribution to men’s long term mental health problems. We need to protect our boys much better.
Rather than “man up” and put up with such shabby, cost cutting treatment, we should lobby Government hard that such discriminatory social policies are unacceptable, if we wish to be perceived as a humane society.
What MoMA is doing is important not just for jailed men, but surprisingly important for all men.
Additionally, it exposes the destructive impact that familycaught$ has had on the protection of boys in particular from sexual abuse by women. Children’s time should be divided between parents more on the basis of ability to safely care for them and develop them, rather than as a knee-jerk reaction to a very small number of violent murders of children by men. (This is in addition to the issue that more children are extinguished by mothers, than by fathers or even men in general.) It is no accident that all of the major theories about child development were developed initially by men. Women just don’t show up in this area, other than as later supporters and developers of the theories.
Despite serious mental health problems being more common in men, the mental health problems that our society gives women, tend to be particularly more hazardous for women’s ability to safely sole care for babies.
Depression is more common among women than men. In making decisions about who cares for children, lets look carefully at both parents capabilities and limitations and respond more appropriately according to the baby or child’s needs.
Of course babies are much safer when they see both parents frequently, so separation greatly increases hazards for babies. We don’t effectively manage the big increase in hazard to children, that will occur when a separation takes place.
Good comments MurrayBacon. Couple of things:
It’s important to be careful about the diagnosis and indeed the concept of ‘mental illness’. Diagnosis remains highly unreliable despite attempts to define clearer criteria such as in DSM. Many ‘patients’ receive a succession of diagnoses each one abandoned because ongoing evidence suggests it was incorrect and/or the next psychiatrist sees it differently. Not a good idea to use diagnoses for determining whether people are allowed to do what nature intended them to.
Secondly, the male:female imprisonment ratio can be calculated as above, i.e. 18.5 to 1, and is certainly greater than 10 to 1.
Thanks MoMA. I agree that formal DSM diagnosis is fraught with issues in terms of being affected by people’s instabilities.
However, particularly for depression, research appears to show that parental responding to a baby in their care can be seriously detrimentally affected by depression, at levels far below the formal DSM diagnosis level. Put in a different way, if about 10% of the population reach formal diagnosis levels, the proportion of parents who a less than formal diagnosis levels, but sufficiently depressed to hazard a baby’s development, if left in their sole care, is closer to 50%. Also, new parents are usually somewhat more depressed, than the average member of the population.
As a society, we are not proactively protecting children and babies satisfactorily. Better to provide more support for young parents and encourage more inside family support, than to just build more prisons and/or mental hospitals for neglected children.
Part of the problem is that although there is some respect for bringing up children successfully, there is relatively scant respect for good mothering or fathering through most of our society.
Here’s another example of laws being made harsher that are likely and intended to apply only or mainly to men. Funny, we’re not seeing laws made harsher for offences that women are statistically equally or more likely to commit such as theft from employer, illegal abortion and infanticide. But all crimes mainly committed by men have had penalties steadily increased and this will contribute to the gender inequality for imprisonment.
Oh and come to think of it there was also this recent law that will allow prosecution of partners of beneficiary fraudsters, SPECIFICALLY:
Note this won’t apply to partners of other kinds of beneficiary. Because the vast majority of ‘sole parents’ are women this law change is blatantly aimed at male-bashing and further financial exploitation (through seizing assets) of males. It will also contribute further to the prison gender imbalance.
Interestingly, this law takes our society back to pre-feminist principles that made men responsible for their wife’s debts and behaviour. But there has been no objection to this new law from feminists, highlighting yet again that feminists don’t really care about equality, only female privilege.
Dear Man X Norton, I thought that the Proceeds of Crime already covered this situation adequately?
Under the Privacy Act, a partner has no right to ask for information about their “partner”, to find out if they are drawing a benefit. Thus, if a person is living in a relationship and quietly drawing a benefit, the working partner may be completely unaware. If they do suspect that their partner is quietly drawing a benefit, they write to WINZ to ask if a benefit is being drawn, they will be denied the information that they need to ensure compliance with the law.
I know of a lady that IRD cs said was in a relationship with a man. She said he was a boarder for 2 years and they were not in a relationship at all. He claimed that they were in a relationship. IRD cs put a caveat over her house, so that on sale they would recover money owed by the man for his cs and penalties (this is where the best staff bonuses come from).
The lady was treated quite cruelly, in my opinion. Seems like quite a few men will be caught in a roughly similar trap.
Maybe a few hundred thousand men will have to write WINZ a letter every 3 months, to check on where they stand and hope, against odds to get a useful reply. Dear Minister for WINZ, are any of the women on this list (women that I know) receiving a benefit from you?
Even when you know, what can you do at that point anyway? Just try to escape….