Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Everyday 'Race Hate' Rife in Christchurch"

By JO McKENZIE-McLEAN - The Press, 3 September 2009

"An attack on a Thai girl, who was beaten up by fellow pupils on a bus, is part of everyday "race hate" in Christchurch, a homestay parent says.
Paul Stratford said the Avonside Girls' High School pupil arrived at his house distressed and covered in blood after being beaten up on the bus after school on Monday.
The assault comes after a South Korean pupil had a knife held to his throat and was kicked to the ground in an unprovoked attack at a Christchurch bus stop last week.
In the latest assault, the year 13 pupil was beaten by two younger girls in Avonside uniforms as she left the bus. She had never spoken to the pair, Stratford said.
"They were punching her in the head as she was getting off the bus," he said.
"They were telling her to 'f... off back to her own country'. She is horribly upset."
Stratford said the bus driver reported the incident to the school, which notified the police.
Avonside principal Theresa Shaughnessy last night confirmed there was an incident involving three pupils, but there were "no racial overtones".
She said the incident was being dealt with "very seriously" and declined to comment further.
The victim was a girlfriend of one of Stratford's two homestay pupils, both of whom had been beaten up.
One had had a tooth knocked out when he was punched in the face in June at The Palms Shopping Centre, Stratford said.
The attacks had left the pupils feeling vulnerable and too scared to leave the house by themselves, he said.
"I know a lot of Asian girls who don't like catching the bus because they often get bullied."
Stratford, a New Zealander married to a Thai woman, with whom he has two young children, said his wife was regularly the victim of racial abuse.
"It's not just students. My wife has been spat at while she's out walking the pram," he said.
"I don't think many people are aware that these race-hate incidents and violent attacks are everyday occurrences," he said.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said race-hate crimes were a problem not just in Christchurch but around the country and were occurring more often than was reported to police.
"It's becoming more and more urgent for police to gather data of racial abuse," he said. "The Government does agree but has said it's not a priority."
People needed to report their experience and schools needed a culture of tolerance and respect, he said."
See other posts about NZ's racism problem here: Racism
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