Calls for NZ Cricket to address sexual violence concerns

Tue 22 Jan 2019

Calls have been made for New Zealand Cricket to address concerns about sexism and sexual violence, following Scott Kuggeleijn playing for the ...

Calls have been made for New Zealand Cricket to address concerns about sexism and sexual violence, following Scott Kuggeleijn playing for the Black Caps last week.

Background information

In 2016, Kuggeleijn, 24, was tried for the rape of a 20 year old woman. This resulted in a hung jury; in a retrial in 2017 he was not convicted. However attention has ben drawn to the testimony of the complainant, behaviours Kuggeleijn himself described in court and arguments made by his defence.

In court Kuggeleijn said "I tried [having sex] twice, like she might have said 'no, no' a few times but it wasn't dozens of times."

A witness testified Kuggeleijn said the next day "he had been trying for a while and that he had finally cracked it.”

The next day he texted an apology which was later read out in court: "I heard you felt you couldn't say no and were pressured into things. It's pretty chilling to hear and think of myself in that kind of light, but looking back I was pretty persistent. I'm so so sorry and it has made me think about a few things. I hope you are OK and I'm sorry for the harm mentally I have caused you."

Statements from cricket bodies

After the second trial in 2017, media reported the Northern Districts Cricket Association, released a statement with chief executive Peter Roach saying his organisation fully respected the court process and the decision handed down. He said, "This has been a terribly difficult situation for all concerned. Northern Districts is an organisation which embraces inclusivity and promotes respect towards women. As such, the charges against Scott were a grave concern."

Kuggeleijn was nearly selected for the national team a month after the second trial. Media reported a New Zealand selector said he had been impressed with the 25-year-old's composure during the court proceedings: "One thing I will say, I've been incredibly impressed with Scott and the way he has handled himself, on and off the park, with all that's gone on. He's a resilient man and, [if selected] I think he'll do the job and will be focused."

In October 2017, The New Zealand Cricket Player's Association (NZCPA) updated their player's handbook to include notes on issues including affirmative sexual consent. NZ Herald reported NZCPA chief executive Heath Mills said "the decision to include the material in the updated handbook was not made because of issues within the organisation, or as a reaction to any case in particular."

NZ Herald reported that New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said they "respected the court process and [were] not in the business of relitigating past events". He said that "would be manifestly unfair on all parties involved. [The court is] the most appropriate forum for judging matters as serious as this." Newshub's The Project reported a similar statement was issued to them in January 2019.

Calls for NZ Cricket to respond to concerns

In her blog Sexual Politics Now, University of Auckland Psychology Professor Nicola Gavey writes:

"In the wake of MeToo, this [NZ Cricket's] position seems strikingly tone deaf to wide global concerns about sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence. We see the interconnections. We know that the criminal justice process is a blunt instrument. And that a not guilty verdict does not mean there is nothing to account for. No-one is asking for 'relitigation'. But doing nothing is not a neutral position."

Professor Gavey called the "high profile silence" a "de facto minimization of sexual violence," writing:

"I’m not saying that Kuggeleijn should never represent his country, or that he can never rise above this. But when a man represents New Zealand in a high profile sport like cricket or rugby he is automatically elevated to a position of unique status and potential influence in New Zealand society. And for that reason, the position carries a reasonable burden of expectation for decent behaviour. And an expectation of public accountability when he falls short.

New Zealand Cricket has a responsibility to approach their team selections with this bigger picture in view. It now has a choice to make. Does it act the dinosaur with its head in the sand, putting winning the game ahead of doing the right thing? Or, does it take a bold and socially responsible stance, stepping up to address the issue head on, acknowledging that even though Kuggeleijn was not convicted, what we’ve seen and heard about his behaviour and attitudes toward women doesn’t live up to modern standards expected by socially responsible organisations and employers?

... The second path comes with challenges for an elite sporting body. But it is the route that we now expect from organisations facing sexual violence within their ranks. It involves facing up and proactively countering any hint that it condones such behaviour. It might end up meaning that it is not the right time for Kuggeleijn to put on the black cap. More work needs to be done to explicitly distance the organisation and the team from the kinds of values he has embodied. And they need to front up to the public to explain how they are working with him and the team to dissociate from that kind of ‘toxic masculinity’.

But the second path also represents an opportunity. A chance to show leadership and model positive values affirming gender equality and nonviolence. The importance of transforming harmful gender norms is where the future lies in preventing gender-based violence – according to international bodies like the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and local organisations like White Ribbon."

Similarly, Spinoff guest writer Jessie Dennis writes:

"No one is arguing that any man who ever commits any act of violence be forever shunned from society. But the alternative is not silence. New Zealand Cricket must step up and explain what makes them now confident that Kuggeleijn has significantly worked on his attitudes and behaviour towards women. If he hasn’t, he shouldn’t be in the team. And whether he is or isn’t, they should show the work they are doing to educate all their players on issues of consent."

In an opinion piece, Stuff journalist Michelle Duff writes,

"A not-guilty verdict does not mean Kuggeleijn did nothing wrong. It was a lost opportunity for New Zealand Cricket to remind its players, and the country at large, about the importance of respect for women, about how utterly unacceptable it should be for anyone representing the nation to behave in any less than an exemplary manner."

Host of Newshub's The Project Kanoa Lloyd said:

"So, I'm talking to you NZ Cricket: Kiwis listen to you. Our sons and daughters listen to you. You've got a responsibility to help lead the way. I think you've dropped the ball here; silence may have been an option in the past, but it's not okay in 2019. We've saved a seat for you: the chair right next to me in The Project studio. I'd love you to come here and tell us what we should tell our kids about why Scott is representing our national team. Tell us what you guys are doing to face up to the stuff he got wrong."

A petition has been started on ActionStation, calling for NZ Cricket to "only select Black Caps that every New Zealander can feel proud to be represented by. Scott Kuggeleijn's description of his own behaviour does not meet these standards - or the Players Association standards for sexual relationships. ...  NZ Cricket must demonstrate they care about ethical integrity and respect for women by developing processes to ensure those who play for New Zealand will not embarrass us."

Related research and reports

The justice response to victims of sexual violence: Criminal trials and alternative processes
Wellington: Law Commission | Te Aka Matua o Te Ture, 2015

From "real rape" to real justice: Prosecuting rape in New Zealand
McDonald, Elisabeth | Tinsley, Yvette
Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2011

Related information
For related information, see these previous NZFVC news stories:

Selected and related media

How to prevent sexual violence through and in sport, Radio NZ, 27.02.2019

NZ Cricket's silence on Scott Kuggeleijn just another head in the sand, Radio NZ, 14.02.2019

Sports Minister Grant Robertson says New Zealand Cricket needs to respond clearly to Scott Kuggeleijn concerns, NZ Herald, 13.02.2019

'Obsessive' former cricketer given jail time after breaching protection orders, NZ Herald, 12.02.2019

How the wording of our sexual assault laws is making it harder to convict, The Spinoff, 12.02.2019

I adore NZ cricket. But I won’t watch until the silence on Kuggeleijn is broken, Opinion: Michelle Langstone, The Spinoff, 12.02.2019

When will it be OK to cheer for Scott Kuggeleijn?, Newsroom, 12.02.2019

Martin Devlin: 'I have missed the mark', Stuff, 11.02.2019

Radio Sport apologises over Martin Devlin's cricket banner comments, NZ Herald, 11.02.2019

What did the juries hear in the Scott Kuggeleijn case?, NZ Herald, 11.02.2019

NZ Cricket should stop protecting Black Cap Scott Kuggeleijn, Stuff, 08.02.2019

NZ Cricket, Westpac Stadium apologise to rape protester, Radio NZ, 07.02.2019

New Zealand Cricket confident it has handled Scott Kuggeleijn case well, Stuff, 23.01.2019

Petition to condemn sexual violence to be sent to NZ Cricket, Stuff, 22.01.2019

Alison Mau: Time's up; it's not safe for juries to decide on sex crimes, Stuff, 20.01.2019

Justice on trial: Juries obsess on whether victim is a virgin and the length of her skirt, Stuff, 13.01.2019

NZ Cricket Should Have Taken A Leaf Out of American Baseball’s Book When It Came To Scott Kuggeleijn, Vice Sports, 31.03.2017

The Kuggeleijn case and the simple concepts we still don’t understand about consent, The Spinoff, 17.08.2016

Image: Pixabay

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