Feb 16 2011

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NZ: Fighting bullies and abusers

from The Marlborough Express

Human rights are being breached in Marlborough on a regular basis, says Community Law Marlborough.

Members say they have seen cases from sexual and racist harassment to bullying at work and school, and that these have had “severe impacts” on the victims.

They have urged those who have fallen victim to such abuse to seek help.

Case worker at Community Law, Andreja Phillips, said workplace bullying made up a large amount of the cases, and it should not be tolerated.

“There’s many different ways but it is often harassment which can then take the form of sexual harassment.

“It could also be verbal abuse.

“There are certainly some workplaces that have quite a bad culture in that way.

“There could be someone getting sexually harassed but the person doing it thinks it’s a joke. It’s not a joke for the person involved.

“And it can have a big impact. People can leave their job or it can affect a person’s mental health.”

Age discrimination is also present in Marlborough, said Andreja.

“We’ve had one case about discrimination on the basis of age which has gone to the Human Rights Commission and they had a mediation.

“It’s up to companies to have policies in place to deal with that kind of thing.”

In New Zealand, universal human rights are affirmed in the Human Rights Act, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, in other statues and in common law. The Human Rights Commission was also created to provide better protection of human rights in New Zealand.

It works, “for a fair, safe and just society, where diversity is valued, human rights are respected, and everyone is able to live free from prejudice and unlawful discrimination”.

Andreja said that should a case go to court the victim would have to prove their case and so she recommended steps that could be taken.

“I would suggest that the person keeps a log book of all the instances and then contact either the Human Rights Commission or ourselves,” she said.

The issue has prompted the organisation to arrange a free seminar on February 25, to be held from 1pm till 3.30pm at the group’s seminar room on level 3 of Cavalier House at the north end of Market St.

The Human Rights Commission will make a presentation and anyone who works with people or who is interested in human rights has been invited.

“It may also be of interest to secondary school students and would be a great starting point to develop a school project,” said Andreja.

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