Maori girls suffer ‘horrific’ rate of abuse

NZ Herald October 25, 2007
A new international survey has found one in four New Zealand girls is sexually abused before the age of 15, the highest rate of any country examined. The results show, for the first time, that Maori girls suffer roughly twice as much sexual abuse as European girls – 30.5 per cent of Maori compared with 17 per cent of Europeans in Auckland, and 35.1 per cent of Maori compared with 20.7 per cent of Europeans in the northern Waikato. The survey, based on a World Health Organisation study that asked the same question in 10 developing countries and Japan, prompted sexual abuse counsellors yesterday to alert parents to the signs their children may be suffering unwanted sexual contact.Nearly 3000 women were questioned about unwanted sexual contact before they were 15. The 2855 randomly selected women aged 18 to 64 in Auckland and northern Waikato were asked: “Before the age of 15, do you remember if anyone in your family ever touched you sexually, or made you do something sexual that you didn’t want to do?” After answering the question about their family, they were asked: “How about someone at school? How about a friend or neighbour? Has anyone else done this to you?” Overall, the survey found that 23.5 per cent of women in Auckland and 28.2 per cent in the Waikato had experienced such abuse. The median age when the abuse started was 9 and the median age of perpetrators was 30. Half the women said the abuse happened once or twice, a quarter said a few times and a quarter many times.For 83 per cent of women, there was only one perpetrator. For 14 per cent there were two, and for 3 per cent more than two. Uncles were the most common male perpetrators (24 per cent), followed by brothers/stepbrothers (14), fathers (13), cousins (11), stepfathers and grandfathers ( 9), other family members (5), family friends and acquaintances (14) and strangers (1). More than half (54 per cent) of those who suffered childhood sexual abuse later suffered sexual or physical violence from a partner, compared with 31 per cent of other women.