Steve Hansen criticised for saying domestic violence is ‘not a gender thing’
All Blacks coach has called up Sevu Reece, who pleaded guilty to assaulting partner
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been criticised for saying domestic violence is ‘not a gender issue.’ Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty
The All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has been called out for saying that domestic violence is not a gendered issue after he named a player who pleaded guilty to assaulting his partner in his squad.
Hansen, a former police constable, made the comments after putting Canterbury Crusaders winger Sevu Reece in the latest All Blacks’ squad.
Reece pleaded guilty last year to a count of male assaults female, which is a crime most often used with family violence-related assaults, in the Hamilton district court. However, he was discharged without conviction after a judge ruled that it would have a detrimental effect on his rugby career.
The then 21-year-old had signed a contract with the Irish club Connacht, but the club tore up the contract because of the charge. He has been playing with the Christchurch Crusaders and Hansen told the New Zealand Herald that Reece had “flourished” and become a “better person” during his time at the club.
Hansen told Radio Sport that Reece made a mistake but had been through the right process.
“You’ve got to remove him out of it and say, look there’s been a domestic violence incident, do we agree with it? No, we don’t,” said Hansen. “Does the New Zealand Rugby Union? No, they don’t. Do the Crusaders? No, they don’t.
“But, it’s a big part of our society unfortunately. So, rugby is going to have people within its community that are involved in this.”
Hansen said, having been a policeman he had seen a lot of domestic violence and that it was not just restricted to men assaulting women. Women also assaulted men, he said. “It’s not a gender thing.”
Ang Jury, chief executive of the New Zealand Women’s Refuge, told the Guardian that all statistics pointed to domestic violence in the country being a “gendered phenomenon”.
“This is unlikely to change unless we are reading from the same song book. This is something that needs societal change.”
“[Steve Hansen] is the most influential man in New Zealand Rugby and if he holds these outmoded and very out of date attitudes based on his experience of 20 years ago as a policeman, then actually they need to change from the top.”
Most recent data from 2016 shows that of all protection orders 89 per cent were made by women.
Between 2009 and 2015, there were 92 intimate partner deaths. In 98 per cent of these deaths where there was a recorded history of abuse, women were the victim, abused by their male partner.
A UN report put New Zealand as having the one of the worst records of family violence in the world.
One in three New Zealand women also report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their partner at some point in their lifetime. When psychological and emotional abuse is included, the figure increases to 55 per cent.
Jury said she hesitated to talk about those numbers because they felt like they had been accepted.
“We shouldn’t have to be arguing about it.”
Hansen announced last year that he would step down as coach of the team after the 2019 World Cup. The 59-year-old, who has been in charge of the All Blacks since 2012 and has had 16 years within the setup, will leave after his side’s title defence in Japan. - Guardian