A kerfuffle in the New Zealand parliament over immigration centers ended with several female lawmakers disclosing that they are victims of sexual assault, and eventually being kicked out for speaking out of order.
The argument was sparked by comments made by the country’s prime minister, John Key, after he accused the Labour and Green party lawmakers of “backing the rapists,” referring to New Zealand citizens convicted of certain crimes who are awaiting deportation from Australia.
“Some of the [detainees] are rapists, some of them are child molesters, and some of them are murderers,” Key said on Tuesday (Nov. 9), triggering a massive walkout by opposition MPs. Key, a controversial figure in New Zealand politics, was lambasted earlier this year for repeatedly pulling on a waitress’ ponytail.
The following day, leaders of the Green Party called for an apology from the prime minister. MP Metirir Turei tried to object to the comments in several points of order, but was shut down each time. She said: “As the victim of a sexual assault, I take personal offense at the prime minister’s comments, and ask that you require him to withdraw and apologize.”
She was followed by several other women, including MP Jan Logie, who said: “As a victim of sexual assault and an advocate for survivors, I would ask that the record expunge the comment from the prime minister,” according to an account from the Guardian.
Green MPs Marama Davidson and Poto Williams, who attempted to make similar comments, were booted from the room. About eight others walked out in solidarity. “We’ve walked out because every woman in this country needs to know that women parliamentarians will not put up with this,” said Delahaunty.