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Woman at centre of Malaysian diplomat case goes public

UPDATE: Tania Rose Billingsley (21) has been revealed as the woman at the centre of the Malaysian diplomat sexual assault case, having waived her right to name suppression.

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, a staff assistant for defence at the Malaysia High Commission in Wellington, was arrested on May 9 and charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape after allegedly following Ms Billingsley to her home in Brooklyn.

Mr Rizalman left New Zealand on May 22 under diplomatic immunity after confusion at MFAT over whether a waiver had been offered or accepted.

"I found out that he was going to leave the day that he left. Up until then the police had been really great at keeping me informed, but even they didn't know what to tell me," Ms Billingsley said on TV3's 3rd Degree.

"I got this call and it was like, 'Yeah, you know we just found out that he's leaving today.'

"Obviously I was frustrated and I was angry because I had from the very beginning said that I wanted him to stay in New Zealand and be held accountable here."

On July 2, the Malaysian government said it would send Mr Rizalman back to NZ to face charges.

Ms Billingsley called on Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully to resign.

On July 3, Mr McCully said his ministry had let him down, and that he had apologised to the Prime Minister. 

Ms Billingsley did not speak about the details of the alleged assault. See the full interview here.

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Comments and questions
101

Excellent. Fair trial guaranteed then. I hear the Herald is to get a kicking for publishing the results of a poll on Banks' sentencing before it happens, and that's a judge alone. TV3 should give this guy good grounds to get a stay, just adding to the balls up that this case has become. That's if Malaysia decides he can get a fair trial here anyway.

Agreed - surprised this interview is allowed to proceed- to inflame public opinion is not doing any one any favors and is in breach of the bill of rights - fair trial and from her perspective too as it may help the case for the diplomat and work against her now?

While I feel sorry for her, I can't help but feel there is more of a political flavour to her going public then a sense of seeking justice. Why else did she go to a Green politician who could be guaranteed to criticise the Government? Why not wait for the judicial process to take its course? The police appear to have acted with integrity. If there was a mistake made by officials it was made by a woman in MFAT, but the "victim" seems only interested in blaming men in the process.

I agree. I feel considerable disquiet about the case now. And given that the alleged offender here is Malaysian, why does New Zealand all of a sudden have the 'rape culture' and McCully should resign even though MFAT's screw-up was not of his making? There appears to be political point scoring going on here now which jars against the need for justice. I realise Ms Billingsley is very young, but I think she was ill advised to speak out at this early stage in the process.

These are comments from old men who seem to be trying to excuse the fact that nothing was done for so long to address the victim's situation and that the Minister has sought to avoid accountability for his own Ministry.

It is time people stood up and spoke out against the continuing prevalence of sexual abuse in our society.

So old men's comments don't matter then, Pam, is that what you are saying? If they don't have anything correct or 'young' to say they should just shut up and go away. You sound awfully ageist to me.

Old men can comment away as much as they like, revealing more about themselves than their experience if these comments are anything to judge by. What I would like to see is older men reflecting on society in their day and what their values were, and what the impact was on women. Then they might have some powerful messages about what changes there could be that would help reduce sexual violence against women.

The woman feels so aggrieved by the back-peddling and belated faux annoyance from the minister, towards the officials in Mfat , that's why she has decided to out herself.

McCully would've been fully briefed on this from the moment the alleged attack took place. The position he's taking is retroactive. For the sake of diplomatic relations with Malaysia, he would've been hoping to keep the incident out of the public arena. Wait and see if there are any job casualties in Mfat; if not, you can guess why.

As very brave it is of her to speak out, she's now given the Malaysian government a reason to keep him back there, to ensure a fair trial that's not by media.

And as for calling for the resignation of a minister who wasn't really guaranteed to know, by being kept informed of those below him of activities as they actually happened, a-typical politically motivated move.

Unfortunate stance to take to say the least.

Sorry Steve, but I think McCully should resign. He was told about the incident and arrest the day after it happened. He then left it 6/7 weeks without inquiring how his minions were dealing with it? That is incompetence pure and simple. Retaining such people in cabinet in the run up to an election is most unwise. That is my opinion! Or am I just too keen on seeing the Nats win the "up-coming election"?
Retaining this Minister (Incompetent nincompoop) makes me very nervous!!

Unusually, I agree with John on this one. If one of your managers failed to proactively check on the progress of a major incident affecting a key relationship with your business, wouldn't you say he has failed in terms of his accountabilities? And isn't it even worse that this was in the political arena?

I can't believe I'm agreeing with him aswell - wow.

1st reaction was - this feels political.

I had similar thoughts as I watched the programme, although I am trying to remain open minded until the details of what actually happened emerge. And that means from both the alleged assailant and alleged victim.

MM is accountable for ensuring that MFAT carries out its functions properly and efficiently. Therefore, on occasion, this may require a Minister to account for the actions of a department when errors are made, even when the Minister had no knowledge of or involvement in those actions.

In one view, even where a minister is unaware of an action taken by a subordinate, he or she should resign. The contrary view, held by successive New Zealand governments, is that rectification should be placed ahead of resignation.

Ultimately it is for JK to decide rather than Ms Billingsley, in a broader political context, whether MM has breached his ministerial responsibility and, if so, what the consequences should be.

The Cabinet Manual goes a little further than just what you say: "(Ministers) are accountable to the House for their policies, their own performance, and the performance of entities within their portfolios".

JK will still decide but Ms Billingsley and any member of the public (or of Parliament) is perfectly entitled to call for JK's and MM's resignations, to expose the bungling, and the lack of accountability that has been part of it.

I feel sorry for her but her anger seemed more directed at Key and McCully rather than the perpetrator. Was there some rather distasteful political point scoring here and was she fed lines by one or more MPs on the left? Not sure if the Malaysian is going to come back now as his government could legitimately doubt whether there's going to be a fair trial.

I'm guessing that if you were attacked then bungling politicians allowed the perpetrator to leave the country you wouldn't be too thrilled with them either.

Why don't you guys get the fact that her anger is about sexual abuse not being properly recognised in our society and, that as an alleged victim of it, she saw her case as typical of how the issue gets swept under the carpet?

Would you be making all these suggestions of it being political behaviour if she was your daughter?

But how is it not recognised? I do not believe in a rape culture in New Zealand, we have a drinking culture, we have a drug culture and we may well have a family violence culture but not this. Yes there are mongrels but they are not the majority, nor are men the only ones who abuse, particularly when it comes to children. She was allegedly attacked by a non NZ man. This is the wrong forum for bringing up something that is not as rife as she seems to want it to be.

If she was indeed attacked then that is horrible for her and for that she defiantely has my sympathy, but allowing herself to be abused and manipulated for the political gain of the Green Party is not a good way forward.

It is your anonymous allegation that she has allowed herself to be used by the Greens. As Chris Keall notes elsewhere, Jan Logie is also involved with the Wellington Rape Crisis Centre.

Paula Bennett yesterday publicly agreed that we have a rape culture. I am sorry you don't recognise it, and choose (like so many others commenting here) to instead play party politics over the issue.

She may have had more credability if she hadn"t spoken to a Green MP first.This smells of a political interference by the left.

So she should have relied on the inaction of the Minister most directly involved? Your ideology is showing.

This has moved from a straight criminal case to a political agenda.
This women cares more about the politics than what allegedly happened to her. - I no longer see that she is oh so brave to speak out.

Too shallow a comment.
I've spent half my life working up in that country and due to the political incompetence in NZ the case was beggared from the beginning.
I consider she has been well advised. The perpetrator will be simply saying, how much do I have to pay to make this go away.
That said, why shouldn't some local NZ incompetents get some comeuppance..

In the real world what we have is an allegation.
In the media what we have is a conviction.
This must stop.

It would be a terrible terrible shame if her self-identification as a feminist activist in any way provides an 'out' for the evil creep that followed her home. He needs to be back in NZ facing Kiwi justice sharpish. Until all the facts are in it is also far too soon to call for Ministerial resignations...when the responsibility for the idiotic decision that allowed this vile creature to temporarily escape our shores could well sit with another anti-National activist/MFAT Public Servant within the State Bureaucracy.

McCully should have followed up and asked what was happening with it all. He didn't and that's why he should resign now. Resolving the case has got nothing to do with his inaction.

No constitutional reason for him to resign as a consequence of having been deliberately kept in the dark by politicised public servants. I take it you're not a fan of National either?

Ignoring your attempt to play the man rather than the ball, a competent Minister could and should have proactively checked what was being done. For a Foreign Affairs Minister this was particularly important to do due to the diplomatic sensitivities. Accountability means you ensure things are being done by the people who have the responsibility to do so, done properly, and achieving the right outcome. McCully didn't do this. We still have no explanation as to why he did not do so.

An alleged sexual assault by a foreigner who has been in NZ for less than 2 years is as a result of NZ's rape culture???????

Almost as good as Cunliffe's 'I am sorry to be a man'.

Two years is plenty of time to pick up local attitudes, but the main issue is that the appalling response is what's indicative of the relatively lax and permissive attitude we have towards rape. We hear a lot about victim's rights from groups like the Sensible Sentencing Trust, but they're strangely silent about cases like this. Or does Justice For All not include rape victims?

This young lady is (by her own acknowledgement) well looked after by the Police.

And the media (and Opposition) have picked up the cause (rightly so and all credit to them) for her rights as a victim.

So how does Sensible Sentencing Trust add any further value to the situation?

I happen to think that JK and MM handled the situation very badly and inadequately - even after they became aware of the alleged crime and its aftermath.

It is a long bow to draw however that her situation highlights the rape culture in NZ!

FYI

6 July 2014

Open Letter / OIA to the NZ Minister Of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully

1) Please provide a copy of the current written Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) 'policy/ procedure' or the like, which outlines the clear 'protocol' to be followed, when a foreign diplomat, residing in New Zealand, is accused of an alleged criminal offence.

2) Please provide a copy of the 'organisational flow chart', or the like, which shows the reporting requirements, both within MFAT, and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, when a foreign diplomat, residing in New Zealand, is accused of an alleged criminal offence.

3) Please provide the evidence that MFAT are compliant with the Public Records Act 2005.

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2005/0040/latest/DLM345536.html

3Purposes of Act
The purposes of this Act are—

(c)to enable the Government to be held accountable by—
(i)ensuring that full and accurate records of the affairs of central and local government are created and maintained; and
(ii)providing for the preservation of, and public access to, records of long-term value; and

4) Please provide the evidence that that your Ministerial Office, under your leadership as Minister of Foreign Affairs is compliant with the Public Records Act 2005.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Bright
_____________________________________________________

PS: I have received a formal acknowledgment of this OIA request and will get a reply within 20 working days...

I feel very sorry for this young lady and any person who is assaulted and the culprit should be punished. I t does not matter in which jurisdiction a suitable punishment is delivered.
Like some of the other readers I am dismayed at why a young lady would wish to engage with the media on such a matter in advance of a proper and timely investigation by the relevant authorities.
This unquestionably looks very much like political opportunism and my advice to Ms Billingsley is not to be sucked in by the political system unless she is of course wishing to be recognised as a political pawn - one so young needs some good and prompt advice.

Political opportunism allegations have to be tempered by the fact that beyond being a Green MP, Jan Logie is also involved with the Wellington Rape Crisis Centre.

That may mitigate (slightly) the party political aspect but does not mitigate the political activism of this campaign in plain view. And the personal attacks on Key and McCully as well as generalising about NZ social attitudes just seem wholly inappropriate at this stage of the process.

I think many will be hearing the disturbing sound of too many political axes being ground over this case.

Maybe it is you who is blind and your political activism is what is blinding you.

This is a young female victim who feels aggrieved and let down - she is the one who had the bad experience - both with horrendous situation with the Malaysian and also the way that the Govt handled it.

She has the right to feel the way she does - it is her right to express the way she feels -

You and I have no right to tell her how she feels and how she should react - personally and politically

Indeed she has the right to say how she feels and I have the right to say how I feel about that. That she has reacted politically is doubtless empowering for her but will make others wary as is plainly evidenced from these comments.

Had she waited for the criminal process to complete before launching her political campaign I think she would have found more general support though even then the personal nature of her attacks would be divisive.

She came out of her own free will; Okay? So members of the public have every right to personally interpret her comments, I too believe that the motives for this young woman "coming out" are highly suspect. Why do I believe this? Like Alan W. her behaviour and comments just do not fit with a young woman that has suffered the terrible trauma she is alleged to have suffered.

I think this just illustrates the point that women like her are trying to get across to you. Notice how your first impression is that because she's not quivering in fear and actually had the courage to come forward, your assumption is that her experience wasn't as bad as you think it should be?

Please read my comment and try and under stand it. no where did I say, or imply that she should be "quivering in fear"! Rather I thought she would've been blaming the Malaysian Diplomat for the alleged assault, not the National Government.
nothing wrong with her "coming forward", but I repeat, both her demeanor and her comments leave me suspecting her real motive for "coming forward".
That is my opinion and I acknowledge it does not fit with yours. So be it.

Perhaps 'Doctor' you are a Doctor of Sociology specialising in identity politics and applied Critical Theory.

Would you say the same thing to the women who went public about their abuse at the hands of senior policemen?

Unfortunately what has happened will give the Malaysian government and excuse not to return him to New Zealand on the grounds that all the publicity will prevent a fair trial. Would'nt we say the same?

Let's not overlook the fact that this is a mess of the government's own making, before a trial is even in sight.

So who better to champion her but an informed and motivated member of the opposition? Should she have gone to McCully? Logie seems perfect. Right person, right place, right time.

@Alan Wilkinson, actually, your right to vent your spleen in public is negligible and distracting. The plaintiff's right to respond to her experience is one the few assets she currently has. Even the people in the SST should understand that much.

Rubbish from start to finish. She could have gone directly to the media supposing the police and Minister were inadequate. I don't know who created this mess but it seems most likely on present public knowledge it was internal to MFAT. The Minister is supposed to run policy and goals, not operational matters. McCully seems to be criticised whether or not he interferes.

The plaintiff has the right to lay a complaint and follow the process through to court. At the time of her interview there was every expectation that would eventuate though her meddling may have now made that more problematic.

I have the right to point these matters out, you have the right to criticise me and I have the right to respond that your criticism is rubbish. None of those rights are negligible.

One detail that puzzles me is how it is possible that McCully was informed about the matter when the CEO of MFAT was not. Explanation?

Alan -if she was being political, she would have sought lifting of name suppression straight away and gone to the media straight away. But she didn't. She only did so when the bungling became apparent.

McCully has an accountability for the impact of operational matters, not a responsibility for detailed operating. As Tom said in a comment above: "If one of your managers failed to proactively check on the progress of a major incident affecting a key relationship with your business, wouldn't you say he has failed in terms of his accountabilities? And isn't it even worse that this was in the political arena?"

I thought we had progressed enough in business and politics to understand the important difference between accountability and responsibility. McCully should have checked.

Reports show that the CEO and McCully were told at the same time - in fact it probably was the CEO who told McCully.

But as you say, you have a right to talk rubbish.

"Reports show that the CEO and McCully were told at the same time - in fact it probably was the CEO who told McCully."

What reports? Last I read the CEO claimed he had only just heard about it.

And McCully is not a manager. His responsibility as I said is for policy and goals and to make adjustments as required to those. If the complainant was dissatisfied with the administration of his department she had the right to take the matter up with him as Minister. Did she and if so what was his response?

Just as McCully also said he had only just heard about it.

McCully isn't a manager but as you clearly do not understand the difference between accountability and responsibility, even when instanced under previous governments leading to ministerial resignations, then there is no point in even considering your comments.

You really read comments very selectively don't you Alan, so that no rational conversation can ever be established. It's like you have completely ignored the 2nd para of Steve's comment about what McCully is accountable for and what he isn't responsible for.

I didn't ignore it, I refuted it. McCully is not a manager. His job is to deal with policy and complaints at the highest level. As far as I know he was briefed on the issue and approved a request for Malaysia to waive diplomatic immunity. It was absolutely not his job to further supervise that process. He took action when he received a complaint that the accused had in fact left NZ.

That is as I understand it. No-one here has provided any evidence to the contrary. Your accusations are devoid of merit.

And Steve has agreed McCully is not a manager. He was seeking to illustrate the difference between accountability and responsibility. Are you really suggesting that McCully, as Foreign Affairs Minister, should not have asked how things were progressing on such a sensitive matter? His CEO should have done the same. Both seem to have completely lost all interest in the case and that's where accountability fell down - incredibly so since in was in such a sensitive diplomatic area.

You don't seem to have followed the matter at all. McCully was briefed almost immediately and approved the letter asking for diplomatic immunity to be waived. The MFAT CEO did not hear about it until the issue was raised weeks later when the Malaysians formally denied the request and repatriated the diplomat.

I suggest you avoid leaping to conclusions before you have ascertained the facts. That may be a novel approach for you.

Ignoring your propensity for personal abuse, wouldn't you as Minister of Foreign Affairs ask what the response to the letter was? Would you really accept so long to elapse without any further update on such a sensitive matter?

The politicians' bungling merely added insult to the injury. Nothing more nothing less. Now get the alleged offender back in NZ and let justice take its course. Don't complicate matters with the red herring of politics. A bungle is a bungle and there is time for why the man was allowed to return home. Many Malaysians also want the answer..

Now all has been revealed the so called Green Party is wanting the Honorable Murray Mc Mc Cully to resign.Maybe Logie from the Greens should also be asked to resign,after the unprovoked verbal assault on Bill English when he was delivering the budget for NZ.People like the Green Party should not throw stones,as they have a habit to be returned with interest.

So amongst all those who so strongly attack Tania Billingsley and her motives, how many of you have suffered rape, sexual attacks or sexual abuse? How many of you have had family members who have suffered the same? Because this just looks to me like a bunch of highly ideological old men seeking to avoid the issues.

So exactly what are the issues that this case highlights considering we have almost no information on the details of the complaint beyond the bare bones of the charges?

1. The level of sexual attacks and abuse occurring in NZ which is being insufficiently addressed, including (but by no means limited to) what are the reasons for such a high level and what can be done to reduce it.

2. The issue of the rights of victims of such attacks and abuse and why these continue to rank so low in priority.

Enough for a start?

1. AFAIK the number of sexual attacks by diplomatic staff in NZ has absolutely no connection to the number in the general community. Last year there were 1378 prosecutions and 833 convictions. That is around 0.04% of the male population convicted of sexual assault and 0.07% of the female population accusing sexual assault. On what basis do you consider this to be a high level?

2. What on earth has diplomatic immunity got to do with the general rights of victims of sexual assault? What on earth is the evidence in this case that the rights of such victims rank low in priority? Very few cases have had such media support and coverage. Your claims are nonsense.

What makes any alleged sexual attacks by the diplomatic community in New Zealand any different to sexual attacks as whole, except for the role of the alleged attacker.

I am sorry you are so isolated from reality that you are unaware of the increasingly high levels of sexual attacks/abuse and are so unwilling to address why and what can be done about it. To help you: International statistics are consistent with NZ - over 60% of sexual attacks and abuse are unreported. Only 31% of those that are lead to charges being laid (research indicates very real issues in victims becoming victims again in the adversarial court process, often withdrawing as a result). Proving sexual assault is difficult, which is why so many attackers get away with it and offend again.

It is very clear to most people that the victim's rights in this case was a classic example of low priority. All the media coverage and support you talk about has only arisen since the blunderings were exposed. What about the victim in the meantime?

Would you feel differently if it was your grand-daughter that was attacked?

It is you who are isolated from reality. There is no increasingly high level of sexual attacks or abuse in NZ. In 1995 there were 1398 prosecutions and in 2013 there were 1378. If anything there is now a more supportive environment for complainants than ever before.

Even supposing your claims about unreported offences are correct the numbers are still minuscule relative to the total population.

I would have thought it was blindingly obvious that diplomatic offenders come from entirely different cultures, education systems and live in an isolated hot-house environment relative to the general population. But apparently that is not obvious to you.

The victim's rights in this case were not a classic example of low priority at all. They were exactly the same as all other victims of offenders with diplomatic immunity. Moreover it appears the MFAT official involved in messing this up for the victim was actually a woman.

What about the victim in the meantime you ask? Apparently the police have treated her very well. She had the opportunity to go to the media any time she wished subject only to the court order for anonymity which it was her right to claim or waive.

Would I feel differently if it was my grand-daughter that was attacked? On the aspects I have commented on and assuming the facts were as reported - absolutely not.

Great Alan. Now you try to marginalise the issue by saying it is miniscule in relative terms and focusing only on prosecutions. About what I should have expected from your age and gender. I suggest you extend your research to include the many reports produced on the matter,. both here in NZ and internationally.

Tosh Tania. I haven't marginalised the issue, I have quantified it. By your own statistics less than 0.4% of NZ women claim to have been sexually assaulted each year. One tenth of that number of men are convicted after due process. And you've ignored the rest of my points.

Just to help you Alan. it is your statistics (unverified) that you use to make the claim of 0.4% and even then you only claim it in terms of prosecutions and not for sexual assault complaints. And how does the international data of 60%of sexual assaults and abuse going unreported justify your claims when you have no idea what it is 60% of?

And you wonder why I don't bother with the rest of your points. But just to fill you in on one thing - she only got an apology from MFAT (note not from McCully) after the issue was raised in the House and she did the interview to raise the issue of sexual violence in NZ and how its victims are treated - not simply as applied to victims of those with diplomatic immunity

Just to help you, Tanya, here are the statistics: http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=TABLECODE7354

If you can customize the table you can verify them for yourself.
With a little more effort and high school maths you can then work backwards from your supposed statistics of 60% unreported and only 30% then prosecuted to work out the claimed numbers however unreliable your claimed statistics are.

Great Tanya - make snide remarks about "age" and "gender". Just show that feminists can be ageist sexist areholes too.

Mark unfortunately age and gender are particularly relevant to this issue. Perhaps you could otherwise explain why men in this country thought it was OK to rape their wife until the law was changed in 1979?

That kind of garbage gives you no credibility, Tanya. There is no evidence men thought it was ok to rape their wife prior to 1979 simply because the law did not outlaw it explicitly nor any evidence behaviour subsequently changed. Neither is there any evidence women thought it ok prior to 1979 either though they would have been equally to blame having had the same voting rights for the legislature as men since 1893.

In fact there is no evidence either sex thought it was ok for women to rape men despite the law failing to outlaw that until relatively recently.

What other nonsense can you dream up now?

You are just incredible. The law was changed in 1979 because of a buildup of evidence that men forced sex on their wives by right of being the husband, even when the wife was specifically not giving consent. For me and most people, that means rape. The law had to be changed to ensure it was so. Voting rights have nothing to do with the issue.

And if you seriously think that attitudes of your generation were not significantly different to women of the time, then you are seriously deluded and haven't followed rape cases involving the police, sportspeople etc at the time, as well as the sexual abuse of young boys by men of your age.

You (and Tania) show your ignorance immediately since marital rape was not outlawed in NZ until 1985. That is obviously no hindrance to your opinions and invented facts for which you can produce no credible source.

If you would like to translate what on earth you meant by this incoherent nonsense I might attempt to respond: " if you seriously think that attitudes of your generation were not significantly different to women of the time".

And for your further education, at that time my wife and I were close friends and supporters of Doris Church who founded the first women's refuge in Christchurch, the Battered Women's Support Group. I was also a committee member of ALRANZ and my wife belonged to many feminist groups. I think I know a lot more about attitudes of my generation of men and women than you and have probably done a lot more for women's rights than you ever will.

Yes my apologies, it was 1985. Your correction however does not justify your hyperbole.

Sorry also you don't understand my 2nd para about attitudes of your generation being very different to women at the time prior to the law change. I am all the more amazed that you might not agree considering all of the personal association with feminist issues you talk about.

I'm in my 60s and can certainly remember my father raping my mother as he loudly called her all sorts of obscenities. I can remember young girl fans being passed around members of sports teams in the showers and being molested by them. I can remember people of my time forcing the loss of virginity of girls. I remember policemen abusing their power over young girls to get sex with them. All of this was typical of the times and their values. Fortunately these have and are changing.

What I don't understand is, with all of your apparent association with this change, why you so tie yourself up with politics rather than support the further change still needed.

Tanya,

Abuse is actually not 'increasing'.

Asking questions (as you have done repeatedly) about how one would feel if they were attacked or one of their relatives attacked is not actually a valid argument. I could argue that being a victim of an attack makes you less likely to consider the facts objectively.

You seem to think that quoting these statistics makes your point for you. But these statistics do not constitute a strategy or a policy. Making it easier to convict offenders does not automatically lead to lower incidence of assault.

It is also irritating that you think anyone who criticizes Billingsley does not take sexual assault seriously.

It would be excellent if people bothered to acknowledge and respect the issue rather than doing their very best to avoid the issue and blame Tanya Billingsley. What is it about her and the issue that you all find so threatening?

What world do you live in? Clearly not one where you understand some of the sexual violence issues affecting women.Tanya never proposed a strategy or policy, she was asked what the issues were. And you, like most commenting here, would much prefer to play politics than address the real issues that Tania Billingsley did.

Again, what someone thinks about Tanya Billingsley tells you nothing about their view on sexual assault. You make these ridiculous assumptions based on incomplete information.

Do you understand that Tanya Billingsley is not the face of sexual assault in this country? Do you realise that her situation is not typical? Do you know that there is almost no information about the actual incident? Do you think she might've compromised any potential trial by doing a public interview? Do you find her attack on the PM unreasonable?

Maybe some people think that using this incident as an excuse for some political grandstanding is opportunistic and unethical. And maybe those people would agree that sexual assault is a serious issue and would take offense to your assertion that they do not understand or care.

What world do you live in?

What makes the sexual attack on her atypical compared to all of the others going on other than that the alleged perpetrator was a diplomat?

No I don't find her comments about the PM unreasonable. His comments were casual and there was no consideration of her place in the scheme of things until the whole incident blew up. McCully's unreasonable behaviour has already been well canvassed in previous comments by people above.

The allegation of political grandstanding is yours and others in discussion here. As Pam said above: "her anger is about sexual abuse not being properly recognised in our society and, that as an alleged victim of it, she saw her case as typical of how the issue gets swept under the carpet".

If you agree sexual assault is a serious issue and you do understand and care, I would have thought you would support her rather than try to undermine her.

I watched this interview. Here sat this lovely looking young woman, calm cool and collected. She sounded as though she was auto cue and reading a transcript that someone had given her. I put it down to her having to be careful of what she said. 20 min's into the interview it became a political statement and an attack on the Government. She was either pushed into this and is being used by the looney, man hating lefties, or she has her own agenda. I have heard a rumour that she is a green activist. Maybe true, maybe not true. Either way this interview has not done her any favours. I work with 30 other woman in my place of business and the comments were not complimentary to her. She should have waited until the alleged perpetrator was brought back to NZ. It will be interesting to see if he comes back now as a good lawyer will use this to his advantage in favour of the alleged defendant. Watch this space.

I have to say Mary that your views and those allegedly of your office co-workers do match mine, any of the women in my office or any others I have spoken to. And your comments about her are frankly offensive.

Sorry for the typo. Mary's comments do NOT match mine or any of the others I mention above.

It was silly of her going public unless of course, she already has had the inside word that the accused will not be returning to NZ and, anyone who believed the accused ever would, are much mistaken

Correct me if I am wrong but within our Judicial system aren't you innocent until proven guilty? I am no legal expert but I would have thought the police/crown prosecutors would have advised the alleged victim not to go ahead with the interview in light of the impending prosecution...therefore going ahead anyway would suggest the alleged victim has been led into making comments for others benefits as why else would you risk the possibility of conviction?

Remember she applied to the High Court for approval to lift name suppression and this was granted without any concerns. Is there something you know that the judge didn't?

To state the bleeding obvious:

The reason Tania and 3rd Degree have only focused on the personal and political aspects of the story was explained at the outset - they cannot prejudice a possible trial by discussing the alleged offence itself.

By courageously coming forward Tania has confronted us with the reality that although the police treated her well it is the government and its servants who have let her down. The political is personal!

The continuing scale of sexual violence against women is evidence of a rape culture that all men must work to overcome - just as we collaborate to overcome drink/drive behaviour.

What on earth is a rape culture? I have lived all my life in NZ, in all sorts of places and situations. In my nearly seven decades I doubt if anyone I know has raped or been raped, and certainly not where it has become open knowledge.

And that's the problem - for far too long it has been something that is worse to talk about in public than to actually commit it. Time for things to change.

So are you saying there have been numerous offences for far too long that no-one has ever spoken about? If so, how do you or anyone else know about the offences? I seriously doubt that NZ has 'a rape culture' anymore than any other country.

There are plenty of research reports available, both within NZ and internationally. The good thing is that now people are speaking out more and archaic social attitudes are changing. But research shows that around 60% of sexual attacks are not reported. I was interested to see on TV news last night that Paula Bennett agrees we have a rape culture in NZ.

Worse to talk about rape in public than commit rape? That is an absurd comment.

Yes Cathy, that has been the attitude of previous generations. Absurd but a reality and why so many sexual offences have been covered up and not reported.

From reading the comments it appears some people's political lenses are superglued on. Let's look at this situation objectively for a millisecond:

The diplomats of the world appear to be a cosy archaic club who prioritise looking after each other over natural justice. Also they write in stupid flowery language.

Governments are powerful and one of the few ways available to ordinary people to get their grievances addressed is to give ammunition to opposition politicians and go on TV. This is not evidence of the complainant's inherent bias.

Waiting for the "judicial process to run its course" is not enough - unless your only aim is to shut down the conversation. The judicial process would only ever address the actions of one man, not the wider shortcomings of the NZ diplomatic service.

"one of the few ways available to ordinary people to get their grievances addressed is to give ammunition to opposition politicians and go on TV. This is not evidence of the complainant's inherent bias".

It may be, depending how it is done. In this case she has made personal attacks on Key and McCully as well as NZ society as a whole. Had she simply complained about MFAT's incompetent handling of the diplomatic immunity problem and focused on her own case there would have been no cause for complaint as well as a rather greater likelihood of the accused being tried in NZ.

And the issue of sexual violence and abuse would again have been swept under the carpet.

No, a trial would have established whether or not a crime had been committed and if it had what punishment should apply. The media would have covered the case comprehensively and whatever the facts that were established could have been subject to informed debate rather than the uninformed hot air and political nonsense that is currently being displayed.

So many similar comparisons with Labour's Darren Hughes alleged sexual assault, and subsequently shut down by Mr Goff and Annette King.Only difference the alleged victim was male.

Yes - plenty more disinfecting sunlight needs to be poured onto that entire saga. If I remember correctly, the young teenage boy had to flee naked around 3am to the safety of a passing police car - and at the time, flee from Labour's deputy Prime Minister's house...

Let's hope some investigative journalists ask Goof about his "delaying tactics" in and around that entire sorry saga.

Cunliffe really will have something to be sorry for then...

Did Jan Logie and the Greens activists write the script for the alleged victim? ( yes, alleged victim).
"Rape culture" in NZ? Are those words designed to invoke rage against every innocent man in NZ, or is this part of the Greens policy that every man is guilty first and has to "prove" innocence?
A woman gets raped in South Africa every 17 seconds. Sounds like that is pretty much a rape culture.
Let's hope the justice system will get a chance to run it's course without further jeopardy by political point scorers.

1) The notion of an accused party being innocent until proven guilty must remain.
2) Harsher penalties for those proven to have been guilty of rape.
3) In the event of proof being presented that an accusation of rape was false then the false accuser should be handed the sentence that would have been borne by the party proven to have been falsely accused (regardless of gender).
4) Politically motivated peddlars of Identity Politics and Applied Critical Theory to be removed from all aspects of the process.
5) Radically enhanced albeit non-political support to be provided to true victims of the hideous crime of rape.
6) Ongoing research to be conducted by non partisan researchers as opposed to those referenced in (4).
7) 1-6 will do for starters.

Objectively Counter-Revolutionary.

Is there any evidence sentences are too light? The problem as popularly believed apparently is the lack of convictions. Tougher sentences are likely to make juries less willing to convict and much worse may increase the incentive for rapists to kill their victims.

DNA tests now identify unknown assailants leaving consent as the major issue for conviction. I don't see any easy solutions short of inventing a lie detector that actually works. Even then some people have a capacity for self-delusion that would defeat it. Or recording every sexual encounter which would surely cause far more problems than it would resolve.

We don't have solutions for preventing any other kinds of criminality. I don't understand why people think we should be able to do it for these crimes which are far more nuanced as well.

Frankly I did believe her before but since the TV interview, I have many many doubts.