A new online guide to justice processes for survivors of sexual violence has been launched.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) Jan Logie says the guide responds to the overwhelming feedback from victims and survivors about the need for better access to information to help them understand the justice process.
The guide has been informed by the Law Commission report The Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence - Criminal Trials and Alternative Processes. This found that the system can fail to respond to the needs of people affected by sexual violence, leading to secondary victimisation and low rates of reporting.
Ministry of Justice also releases report
The Ministry of Justice has also released a report, Improving the justice response to victims of sexual violence.
This report is based on research commissioned by the ministry. Gravitas Research and Strategy Ltd interviewed 39 victims of sexual violence about their experiences in the justice system.
The report concludes that the experience of the justice system can have a negative impact on the overall wellbeing of victims, including severly negative impacts on mental and emotional health, amounting to revictimisation.
The victims who were interviewed often did not feel that their needs were recognised or met by the system. While many participants said they would still seek a justice response to a sexual violation, they said they would be better able to cope if they were more fully informed.
"One of the biggest disadvantages faced by victims, based on this research, is their lack of understanding of, and access to, information about the judicial system, the process, their role and entitlements," the report says.
"Importantly, victims are not well placed to ‘know what they don’t know’, nor are they well placed, as traumatised individuals, to pro-actively seek information or advocate for themselves. It seems, based on these findings, that an active stance from justice organisations and staff is required, towards ensuring delivery of rights and entitlements to victims."