Crowd gathers to show solidarity

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Around 100 people gathered in Ashburton recently to show solidarity for abused three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri and other victims of domestic violence.
Similar Justice For Moko events were held in front of court houses around the country to call for an overhaul of the justice system.
On the same day, Moko’s carers were sentenced to 17 years each for prolonged abuse and torture. An earlier plea bargain reduced the charges against them from murder to manslaughter.
Speaking at the Ashburton event, Families Without Violence coordinator Anna Arrowsmith read out a speech that called on New Zealanders to stand up to the ‘‘shameful reality’’ of child abuse.
‘‘We are over excuses and blame. To harm a child is totally inexcusable and it can’t be blamed on your upbringing, your environment, the government or anything else.
‘‘This needs to be the beginning of change. It has to start somewhere and it has to start now.’’
Another speaker at the event was local White Ribbon ambassador Evans Chibanguza who said the event was not just about remembering Moko, but all young victims of domestic abuse.
‘‘Enough is enough. This cycle of emotional and physical abuse and of injury and neglect needs to stop.’’
‘‘The challenge is to keep this conversation going in order to give children a voice.’’
Ashburton resident Christine Richards read out an anonymous poem in memory of Moko, before a minute’s silence was held .
A petition signed on the day was collated with others and delivered to Parliament in a bid to spark change in the justice system.