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[Prime Minister John] Key was arguing against the return of New Zealanders detained on Australia’s Christmas Island — some of whom are said to have been imprisoned for sex offenses and many for petty crimes. He accused opposition-party members who support the deportations of “backing the rapists.”

“Some of the [detainees] are rapists, some of them are child molesters, and some of them are murderers,” Key said. “These are the people that the Labour party are saying are more important to support than New Zealanders who deserve protecting when they come back here.”

From trash talking in video games to members of Parliament debating policy, sexual assault gets tossed out as a political tactic. It’s either a way to assert dominance or polarize discussion, but the end goal of both is emotional manipulation. Donald Trump isn’t the first or last person to toss out the “immigrants are rapists” line, and sexual assault features strongly in “tough on crime” bills.

But when it comes to dealing with the nuances of sexual assault, taking it beyond a simple talking point

Within the formal, wood-paneled walls of the New Zealand Parliament chamber, woman after woman stepped in front of microphones Wednesday to take umbrage at a comment Prime Minister John Key made the day before. The women stood up one by one and — with some variation — began her remarks like this: “As a victim of sexual assault…”

Most of them didn’t get much further.

“Order, order,” repeated increasingly exasperated Speaker David Carter, who cut off each woman before eventually declaring that any member of Parliament who “flouted” the rules must leave the chamber immediately.

After more clipped speeches, 14 members of Parliament from the Labour and Green parties were either thrown out or chose to leave the chamber, including four male Parliament members …

… suddenly those deeply concerned about sexual assault couldn’t care less about the subject.

Last night’s “All-Candidates Debate on Women’s Rights & Gender Equity” in Halifax was falsely billed: not all candidates were present. NDP candidate (and incumbent) Megan Leslie, Andy Fillmore of the Liberals and Dr. Thomas Trappenberg of the Green party agreed to participate. Conservative candidate Irvine Carvery sent his regrets, pleading a previous engagement. Given that the four riding associations were informed about the debate last December, Carvery’s schedule must be busy indeed. Speculation over whether Carvery’s no-show was part of a larger party strategy was inevitable, given the fact Stephen Harper declined to participate in a national leaders’ debate on issues classified as “women’s” (or the more modern “gender”)—inequality, violence against women and girls, and child care—proposed by Up for Debate, an alliance of “more than 175 women’s organizations and their allies.” That event imploded after Harper said no, leading Tom Mulcair to bow out. The group  turned to “Plan B,” says Up for Debate spokeswoman Kelly Bowden—interviewing the NDP, Liberal, Green and Bloc leaders separately for 20- to 30-minute videos to be aired Sept. 21. Again, Harper said no thanks.

This tokenization of sexual assault is yet another example of rape culture in play.

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