New Zealand approves paid leave for domestic violence survivors

In a country where police respond to a domestic violence incident every four minutes, employers must now give survivors escaping abusive situations up to 10 days paid leave. New Zealand is the second country after the Philippines in 2004 to pass this kind of policy.

Bruce Lipsky/The Florida Times-Union/AP
A large purple ribbon, a symbol for domestic violence awareness, is painted on a sidewalk in Jacksonville, Fla., to commemorate the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Oct. 1, 2015. New Zealand has one of the worst records for domestic violence among developed nations.

New Zealand has become one of the only countries offering paid leave to domestic violence survivors, after approving a law aimed at protecting victims.

New Zealand has one of the worst records for domestic violence among developed nations. Nationwide, police respond to a family violence incident every four minutes and many cases go unreported, according to the advocacy group Shine.

Under the new legislation, employers must grant victims up to 10 days leave to give them time to escape abusive situations, which could include moving out of their homes or attending court hearings.

The new law was hailed by anti-violence groups worldwide, including the UK-based Women’s Aid, which vowed to push for similar legislation in Britain.

The group's chief executive Katie Ghose told the Thomson Reuters Foundation women often lose their jobs when they flee domestic abuse, while many stay with abusive partners due to "financial concerns."

"We believe that this will help give more women the confidence to speak out about the abuse and seek support when taking the brave step to leave an abusive partner and rebuild their lives free from abuse," she said on Thursday.

New Zealand's new policy is set to take effect from April next year.

"This bill is a win for victims, a win for business, and, ultimately, a win for all of us," said lawmaker Jan Logie before the measure was passed in parliament.

Ms. Logie, a Green Party politician who has spearheaded the initiative for years, said the new protections would allow early intervention in domestic violence cases.

"We wait until things get really bad, or someone is killed, and then we wring our hands, squeeze in another hospital bed and build another prison," she said, according to a transcript of her speech.

"No wonder gender-based violence has become entrenched. This bill is a commitment to early intervention and prevention."

The bill was approved by parliament late on Wednesday in a narrow 63 to 57 vote, with opponents raising concerns of its economic impact on businesses.

New Zealand is only the second country in the world to put in place such policy. A similar measure was adopted by the Philippines in 2004.

The Wellington-based New Zealand advocacy group Women's Refuge said it was "delighted" with the new law.

"The idea that there will now be a legal requirement for workplaces to support for victims in the workplace shows that we are committed to making significant progress in eliminating family violence," chief executive Ang Jury said in a statement.

New Zealand has long had a progressive reputation and was the first nation to give women the right to vote in 1893. Its current prime minister Jacinda Ardern is the country's third female leader.

This story was reported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.