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Protest at Parliament against rape culture in schools (Video)

Hundreds of high school students and their supporters protest against rape culture at Parliament in Wellington.

Hundreds of demonstrators, mostly high school students, turned up to a protest at Parliament against a perceived rape culture in schools.

Monday's protest came in the wake of sexist jokes posted on a Facebook page by Wellington College students.

Undeterred by the wet weather, the crowd outside Parliament included boys from Wellington College, there to show their support for the cause, and wearing white ribbons.

The protest was organised by students from Wellington East Girl's College, in response to last week's events at Wellington College and St Patrick's Silverstream.

Minister for Women Paula Bennett told the crowd she thought it was incredibly powerful such a big group had turned out, and said she wanted to recognise the boys and girls, teenagers, men and women speaking out, and calling out behaviour not acceptable at any level. 

READ MORE: 
* Opinion: No 'rape culture' at Wellington College
Editorial: Schools need to show young males that rape "jokes" are intolerable
Year 9s at St Patrick's Silverstream suspended over sexual harassment of staff
Investigation launched over rape comments made by Wellington College students
Suspension lifted for St Pat's Silverstream boys who filmed teachers inappropriately

One of the girls who organised the protest, Wellington East Girls' College student Sorcha Ashworth, said it was heartening to see how many people had shown up, as the cause of their protest was often an invisible issue. 

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The protest follows outrage over jokes about raping drunk girls.

The size of the crowd showed they were not "just four random girls who have this crazy feminist idea". "It's a real issue affecting all of us." 

Fourteen-year-old Norma McLean faced the crowd, telling it "today is an important day". 

"For generations our grandmothers, our mothers, have put up with this and we stand up here today for them and ourselves.

The protest calls for the compulsory teaching of consent in all secondary schools.

"I don't want to stand here in front of you here today and say I hope to see a better future for my daughter. No, I want to see change now, for my generation." 

Ashworth had friends at Wellington College, and said a lot of the boys there was ashamed of what had happened, when two students posted jokes on a private Facebook page about taking advantage of drunk girls. 

Monday's protest was not about demonising the school, or the boys, but about standing together, and showing there were men who disagreed with what happened as well, she said. 

Last week it was also revealed that four year 9 students had been suspended from St Patrick's College, Silverstream, for inappropriately filming two female teachers. 

The protest called for the compulsory teaching of consent, and of the rights of women, in all secondary schools. 

Those in the crowd carried signs saying "if she can't say no, she can't say yes", "consent is not a joke", and "teach consent in all schools", and chanted "no means no", and "2,4,6,8 stop the violence, stop the rape". 

Wellington College student Louis Collins said he and his peers wanted to show the behaviour of the two boys involved in the scandal was not supported by the rest of the school. 

Even if it had not been boys from his school involved, they would have been there supporting the cause. 

"It is part of the Wellington College morale to respect women." 

Asked about calls for more teaching of consent in schools, Bennett said schools had already called for more guidance on teaching sex education, and guidelines were updated in 2015. 

Schools were advised in those guidelines to address issues such as coercion, and consent. 

Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson said education around consent needed to improve.

He wanted to look at what support and services were provided to schools to help get the message across. 

"We've got to stamp out sexual violence and rape culture," he said. 

"As a community we've got to take a collective responsibility for saying 'this is wrong', for standing up and saying things when we hear things and see them." 

Wellington College has yet to confirm what punishment will be handed down to the students involved, while the St Pat's year 9s had their suspensions lifted on Friday afternoon. 

Stuff

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