From Domestic Violence to ‘Family Harm’: Shifting Government Responses to Intimate Partner Violence in New Zealand

Ms Marita Leask1

1Victoria University Of Wellington,

New Zealand has the highest reported rates of domestic violence in the OECD and successive governments have made addressing it a top policy priority. Family violence laws have been amended and inter-agency taskforces have been set up to address ‘family harm.’ While it is important to address domestic violence, framing of this ‘wicked’ problem is crucial. Domestic violence discourses have shifted from a collective gendered victimisation paradigm to a de-gendered ‘family harm model.’ This approach is out of step with extensive research on the gendered nature of domestic violence and the need to understand domestic violence in terms of coercive control. My research into legal and media discourses of intimate partner violence in New Zealand argues that the de-gendered, de-contextualised and neo-liberal nature of domestic violence discourse hinders meaningful change from occurring.


Biography:

Marita Leask is completing her PhD in Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ). Her PhD examines the impact of discursive constructions of victimisation, gender symmetry and intimate partner violence on law and policy in New Zealand.

 

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