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Regulations Review Committee tells lies in support of the Domestic Violence (Programmes) Regulations 1996.

 

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Peter Zohrab and Kevin Crump sent the following complaint to Parliament's Regulations Review Committee in 2009:

Introduction

This complaint is from Peter Zohrab and Kevin Crump. At least one – and probably both – of us would like to present our complaint in person.


Executive Summary

Clause 28 of the Domestic Violence (Programmes) Regulations 1996 ("the Regulations") is, in many respects, an invalid use of the regulation-making power created by section 127 of the Domestic Violence Act 1995 ("DVA"). We submit that
1. it is not in accord with general objects and intentions of the DVA;
2. it trespasses unduly on personal rights and liberties;
3. it appears to make some unusual and unexpected use of the powers conferred by the DVA;
4. it contains matters more appropriate for parliamentary enactment; and
5. it calls for elucidation for other reasons concerning its purport.

The basic issue is that this clause authorises an indoctrination of adult protected persons in an anti-male and unevidenced theory of Domestic Violence which is not authorised by the DVA.

This issue may be raised in a human rights and defamation court case against the Government by Peter Zohrab. However, the relief sought there will be damages, rather than specific performance or judicial review, so there is no real overlap with this complaint. Of course, if this complaint is not successful, the authors reserve their right to contemplate going to court on the issue of whether this regulation is ultra vires the DVA.


Arguments under specific grounds

The specific clause of the Domestic Violence (Programmes) Regulations 1996 which is the focus of this submission is clause 28, "Goals of programmes for adult protected persons."

Section 127 of the Domestic Violence Act 1995 states that the "Governor-General may from time to time, by Order in Council, make regulations" ... "(m)aking provision for organisations and persons to be approved to provide programmes, and for the approval of programmes for the purposes of this Act...."

In order to determine whether regulations that have been made under section 127 of the DVA actually do further the purposes of the DVA, we need to refer to the stated purposes of the DVA in relation to programmes. Section 2 (the Interpretation section) provides a definition of the word "Programme." The part of that lengthy definition which relates specifically to programmes for protected persons (other than children) is the following:

"'Programme', means a programme ... (t)hat, ... (i)n the case of a programme provided to a protected person (other than a child), has the primary objective of promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of that person from domestic violence."

Therefore, the relevant purpose of the DVA is that programmes for protected persons should have the primary objective of promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of that person from domestic violence.

The general issue, therefore, is the extent to which clause 28 of the Regulations actually does further the purpose of the DVA by having the primary objective of promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of adult protected persons from domestic violence.

Clause 28 of the Regulations reads as follows:

 

28 Goals of programmes for adult protected persons
(1) Every programme for adult protected persons must have the primary objective of promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of those persons from domestic violence.

(2) Every programme for adult protected persons must have the following goals:

(a) To empower the protected person to deal with the effects of domestic violence by educating, informing, and supporting that person, and building that person's self esteem:

(b) To increase understanding about the nature and effects of domestic violence, including the intergenerational cycle of violence:

(c) To raise the protected person's awareness of the social, cultural, and historical context in which domestic violence occurs, in order to help that person to put past experiences in perspective:

(d) To assist the protected person to assess safety issues and to put in place strategies to maximise that person's safety:

(e) To provide the protected person with information about—

(i) The effect of protection orders and the way in which the Act operates; and

(ii) The building of support networks; and

(iii) The availability, content and benefits of programmes for protected persons who are children, and how to request such programmes; and

(iv) The content of programmes for respondents or associated respondents, and the obligations placed on respondents or associated respondents in relation to those programmes:

(f) To assist the protected person to develop realistic expectations of behavioural and attitudinal change in the respondent or associated respondent:

(g) To assist the protected person to identify and explore options for the future.

In terms of Standing Order 310 "Drawing attention to a regulation" of the Standing Orders of the House of Represenatives 2008, this submission argues that clause 28 of the Domestic Violence (Programmes) Regulations 1996 :-
1. is not in accordance with the general objects and intentions of the statute under which it is made;
2. trespasses unduly on personal rights and liberties;
3. appears to make some unusual and unexpected use of the powers conferred by the statute under which it is made;
4. contains matters more appropriate for parliamentary enactment; and
5. for other reasons concerning its purport calls for elucidation.


1. Lack of accord with general objects and intentions of the DVA

Of the 7 goals listed in clause 28 (2) of the Regulations, only 2 are fully concerned with promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of adult protected persons from domestic violence, with 1 being partly concerned with that aim. The remaining 4 goals have nothing to do with promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of adult protected persons from domestic violence. Therefore, clause 28 of the Regulations is not in accordance with the general objects and intentions of the DVA with respect to programmes for adult protected persons, which are that such programmes should have the primary (my emphasis) objective of promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of that person from domestic violence.

Specifically, goal (d) (To assist the protected person to assess safety issues and to put in place strategies to maximise that person's safety) and goal (g) (To assist the protected person to identify and explore options for the future) do appear to be fully concerned with promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of adult protected persons from domestic violence.

However, goal (e), which partly refers to providing the protected person with information about the availability, content and benefits of programmes for protected persons who are children, and how to request such programmes, is to that extent concerned with something other than promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of adult protected persons from domestic violence.

Moreover, the remaining goals (goals (a), (b), (c), and (f)) are totally concerned with something other than promoting (whether by education, information, support, or otherwise) the protection of adult protected persons from domestic violence. Goal (a) has to do with the effects of domestic violence – i.e. instead of dealing with its prevention, it deals with issues that arise after it has already occurred. Goal (b) purports to teach a theory or theories about the nature and effects of domestic violence, with no indication that this will assist in promoting the protection of adult protected persons from domestic violence. Goal (c) is oriented towards the purported theoretical explication of past domestic violence, rather than towards preventing future domestic violence. Goal (f) purports to be about assisting adult protected persons to be "realistic" about expectations of attitudinal and behavioural changes in repondents or associated respondents, without there being any indication that this will contribute to preventing future domestic violence.


2. Trespassing unduly on personal rights and liberties

According to the document Making a Complaint to the Regulations Review Committee, the first step under this heading is to establish that a personal right or liberty exists. In this case, the right is the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of sex. This right is affirmed by section 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 ("BORA"), in combination with the Human Rights Act 1993, which lists the illegal grounds of discrimination.

Goals (a), (b), and (c) use the words educating, informing, understanding, and awareness in a context which implies that programme providers have scientific, ideological, religious, or even mystical knowledge about the nature, effects, and social, cultural and historical context of domestic violence, without giving grounds for the belief that there is unanimity about these issues, or who or what is the font of wisdom on these issues.

In practice, it is ascertainable from readily available sources of information that the only people who feel that they have certain knowledge about these issues are Feminists who believe in the Duluth or "Power and Control" model of domestic violence. There is no evidence for this model, which emerges from a Lesbian Feminist conviction that men are evil, rather than from scientific analysis of the data. If you search for the phrase "evidence for the Duluth model" or the phrase "evidence for the Power and Control model" on the Web, you get no results, apart from a page discussing the absence of evidence.

Judge Jan Doogue, in her paper Domestic Violence: Reviewing the Needs of Children (paper delivered at the 3rd Annual Child & Youth Law Conference 2004, 1-2 April.), provides a reality check, by stating:

The Domestic Violence Act 1995 and s. 16B of the Guardianship Act 1968 were based on the classification of violence within the power and control model. In my experience and that of other Judges this model does not fit the profile of many cases coming before the Family Court in New Zealand.

This unscientific model blames men for domestic violence. Therefore, to the extent that the Regulations promote the teaching of this model, they discriminate against men and defame men. This constitutes trespassing unduly on personal rights of men.

There is concrete evidence that this misandry (man-hatred) is taught on these programmes. For example, the Ministry of Justice publication Women living without violence: An evaluation of programmes for adult protected persons under the Domestic Violence Act 1995 ( http://www.justice.govt.nz/pubs/reports/2001/women_violence/index.html ) reports on an evaluation of two programmes for adult protected persons, and states on page xii:

"Both programmes are based on the Duluth model which uses a feminist analysis of domestic violence, develops understandings of violence around the use of the power and control wheel and attempts to build women's confidence and to empower them to take control of their lives."

The Duluth Model website (http://www.theduluthmodel.org/ -- last accessed on 13 August 2009 ) states (possibly correctly) that:

"The Duluth Model is recognized nationally and internationally as the leading tool to help communities eliminate violence in the lives of women and children."

Please note:
1. There is no mention of eliminating violence from the lives of men;
2. The prominence of the Duluth model internationally is the result of a political process, and no indication of its validity.

The webpage http://www.theduluthmodel.org/duluthmodel.php (last accessed on 13 August 2009 ) further states that:

" The Duluth Model engages legal systems and human service agencies to create a distinctive form of organized public responses to domestic violence. It is characterized by:
• Clearly identifiable and largely shared assumptions and theories about the source of battering and the effective means to deter it
• Empirically tested intervention strategies that build safety and accountability into all elements of the infrastructure of processing cases of violence
• Well-defined methods of inter-agency cooperation guided by advocacy programs."

We draw the Committee's attention to the fact that the claims of empirical testing refer to the intervention strategies, whereas the assumptions and theories (crudely summarisable as "men are evil and women are good") are not even claimed to have been subjected to empirical testing.

The Feminist movement was what turned the topic of Domestic Violence into an issue of public and political concern. Feminists consider Domestic Violence to be a "Women's Issue," which appears to mean that the issue should be approached politically, from the point of view of the use that Feminists want to make of the issue, rather than scientifically, as an issue to be looked at rationally and objectively.

We could spend a lot of time discussing the merits of these two ways of looking at Domestic Violence. One of the authors of this complaint, Peter Zohrab, is an expert on this issue, and has written extensively on it. One way of summarising the issue is to ask committee members to access the website http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm which is an annotated domestic violence bibliography, compiled by Professor Martin Fiebert. This bibliography, which includes New Zealand research,

"examines 254 scholarly investigations: 199 empirical studies and 55 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 252,800."

The evidence in favour of the scientific, as opposed to the Feminist, approach to Domestic Violence is overwhelming, but the point here is that it is a misuse of the DVA to draft regulations that facilitate the dissemination of a particular point of view on Domestic Violence that discriminates against men from the outset, without keeping an open mind as to what the facts might actually show.

Peter Zohrab, has spent a considerable amount of effort, time and emotional energy on combatting the Duluth model in New Zealand and internationally. He has met with considerable harassment and discrimination on a regular basis from people who believe in the Duluth model. People are capable of believing almost anything, if it is taught to them in an apparently authoritative setting. Programmes set up under the DVA constitute an authoritative setting which instils man-hating propaganda into people's minds. It therefore constitutes direct discrimination against him and his fellow activists for the DVA and taxpayer dollars to be used to disseminate the Duluth model.

We submit that there is no balancing need on the part of the general public for one-sided brainwashing on Domestic Violence that could be used as a counterweight to the rights of men in this matter.


3. Appearing to make some unusual and unexpected use of the powers conferred by the DVA

It may well be the case that Parliament, in its deliberations on the Bill which became the DVA, was influenced by the Duluth model. However, there is nothing in the DVA which indicates that Parliament as a whole wished the DVA to be used to indoctrinate anyone in the Duluth model. I believe that the Members of Parliament who were influenced by the Duluth model did not have a messianic zeal to impose it on non-believers, or to conspire to have it displace scientific approaches to Domestic Violence. Members of Parliament were, in all probability, totally unaware of scientific approaches to Domestic Violence, since the Feminist-dominated media was almost totally dedicated to building up public hysteria on the basis of the Duluth model.

Therefore, the use of clause 28 of the Regulations to indoctrinate people in the Duluth model was an unusual and unexpected use of the regulation-making power.


4. Containing matters more appropriate for parliamentary enactment

In the unlikely event that Parliament had considered it necessary to "educate" the population – or part of it – in one particular approach to the theory of Domestic Violence, Parliament would have passed an Act for that purpose. It would hardly have authorised the drawing up of regulations for that purpose without having made that purpose explicit in a Act.

5. Calling for elucidation for other reasons concerning its purport.

Although the extrinsic evidence is clear that clause 28 of the Regulations foresees the indoctrination of the Duluth model, that is not actually stated in the clause. There is the strong possibility that what is involved here is bad faith and deception.

The issue of who is qualified to "educate" adult protected persons about various theoretical aspects of Domestic Violence should have been spelled out in the clause. However, as soon as it had been spelled out, it would have raised questions about the validity of the theory that underlay the apparent qualifications of the "educators." There is a strong likelihood, in our estimation, that this issue was covered up, in order to prevent scrutiny from taking place.

Recommendations

We recommend that – pending a thorough redrafting of the DVA based on a scientific view of Domestic Violence – the Government be approached, with a view to deleting sub-subclauses 2(a), 2(b), 2(c), and 2(f), and modifying sub-subclause 2(e) by deleting any reference to protected persons who are children.

If the Government is not willing to take that course of action, then we recommend that the Regulations Review Committee recommend to the House that the above modifications be implemented.

 

This is the reply which the Committee sent back:

 

It is clearly an outright lie to say that our complaint was about policy issues within regulations.  Our complaint closely followed the guidelines for complaints to the Regulations Review Committee and was precisely about the technical issue of whether the regulations involved were within the scope of the Domestic Violence Act 1995.

As we stated in out letter, "The basic issue is that this clause authorises an indoctrination of adult protected persons in an anti-male and unevidenced theory of Domestic Violence which is not authorised by the DVA." 

For the Regulations Review Committee to have denied us the right to present our case in person before the committee was clearly the result of the Committee itself letting their belief in man-hating domestic violence policy override the technical complaint that we were making.

 

 

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