November 25, 2013
Group sanctions kept abuse in check
A Maori women’s group is looking to traditional sources to find ways to address violence against women.
Domestic abuse was in the spotlight yesterday on White Ribbon Day, with men urged to take the pledge to never commit, condone or stay silent about violence towards women.
Leonie Pihama from Te Wharepora Hou says the high rate of domestic violence among Maori is a legacy of colonialism, when institutions like native schools broke down hapu and whanau links.
That led to individualism and a breakdown in collective responsibility.
"The old stories tell us that when there was any form of abuse, and it tended to be verbal, we saw that kupu have mana and power, so even to verbally say something demeaning was considered abuse. When that happened, whanau intervened. You weren’t left as individuals to deal with it yourselves. You had an entire support mechanism that intervened," she says.
Associate Professor Pihama is principal investigator in a Health Research Council funded project looking at issues of historical and intergenerational trauma on Maori.
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