The Myth of the 125th Anniversary of a Woman's Right to Vote

December 1, 2018

 

 

1. All women who are eligible to vote in New Zealand simply cannot after 125 years of electoral law. However,  we say that they can, which clearly belies the legend presented by the  government because in reality 2018 is not the 125th anniversary of the right of women to vote in this country. 

 

2. In the documentary uploaded above produced by Storybox as part of a series entitled: "Aren't, Can't, Don't", the informative stories of the women are similar, although each is very important in its own right. These women express the loss of dignity, the right to recall a government to its obligations, and the power to affirm their allegiance to the body politic as tangata whenua.

 

3. A common narrative is that the right to vote promotes their rehabilitation and integration with society, which are cornerstones of a modern democracy.[1] However, the arbitrariness of disenfranchisement is both irrational and unlawful because a woman serving a sentence of 4 weeks imprisonment for fine defaulting is punished just as severely as a woman serving a life sentence for murder as neither can vote. 

 

4. One of the Maori women who fought with me all the way to the Supreme Court deposed repeatedly that she felt like a "refugee" in her own country. (Refer, affidavits of Hinemanu Ngaronoa). One of the woman in "Aren't, Can't, Don't" (Maarametua), talks about feeling “ripped off” by her own country. There is of course a disproportionate number of Maori in prison relative to non-Maori. It's difficult to challenge these views without appearing as though you have an anti-Maori bias.

 

5. There is no doubt how important the right to vote is for all these women, and despite the ruling by the Supreme Court that disenfranchisement of sentenced prisoners is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, the government has done nothing to resolve the issue, and maintains that amending the law is "not a priority". So the question is who is the human rights violator? Is it the previous government that introduced the blanket ban on prisoner voting, or the current coalition government that refuses to change the law despite the fact that the every coalition party voted against the ban in 2010. I believe they both are.

 

 

 

 

[1] Refer Sauvé v. Canada (Attorney General) [2002] 3 SCR 519. That case involved indigenous people of Canada. By way of a unanimous majority, the Supreme Court struck down legislation disqualifying all prisoners from voting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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