On Sunday 11 September, Auckland Uni students participated in a peaceful protest against rape culture.
Students were outraged after Jayden Meyer, who is now 18 years old, was sentenced to nine months home detention at Tauranga District Court after being convicted of raping four girls and sexually violating another, all under the age of 16.
Over 25,000 people have signed a petition, calling for a harsher punishment, and protests have taken place in several cities across Aotearoa.
PJ Salonga, who helped organise the protest in Tāmaki Makaurau told Craccum he was inspired by Spencer McNeil, a Tauranga barber who spoke out against the sentencing, and organised a peaceful protest in Mount Maunganui last week.
“The minute I saw the headline I was outraged. Nine months home detention is not enough. They failed those girls,” said Salonga.
“I thought it would be a good idea to organise one here in Auckland as I saw no one making any moves. Our peaceful protest is for the girls and for all people who have experienced sexual assault. We are here to support you.”
Just one month ago, an Auckland teenager who currently has name suppression, was sentenced to 12 months home detention after pleading guilty to rape and sexual assault against five young women between 2017 and 2020.
Executive Director of HELP Auckland, Kathryn McPhillips, says we are seeing more short sentences of home detention for teenage sex offenders.
“These do not seem to be ‘just’, in the sense that the harm caused by this sexual offending is likely to be of greater cost to the victims than the apparent impacts on the offenders’ lives.”
“We seek changes to the system which would take more account of what victims need. Light sentences need to go along with a formal system which encourages those who have caused harm to take accountability for their actions, to make amends for the harm they have caused and to undergo the treatment required to ensure that they will not cause this harm to this person again, or to anyone else.”