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Minister apologises to young rape victim

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017
Anne Tolley © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Anne Tolley

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has apologised in parliament to a rape victim whose benefit was cut because she refused to name the father of her child.

Newshub reported earlier this week that the woman, identified only as Laura, had the money deducted even though the law provides an exemption if the child is born of sexual assault or incest.

She told Newshub she gave birth at 14 after being sexually assaulted.

"I don't want to put that person on my son's birth certificate because I don't want him to be known as a product of rape," she said.

Because she wouldn't name the father, WINZ started cutting her benefit by $22 a week, rising to $28 a week.

The deductions lasted for about two-and-a-half years, despite Laura telling WINZ more than once that she had been raped and providing confirmation the matter was before the courts.

In parliament on Thursday, Green MP Jan Logie asked Mrs Tolley whether she would apologise to the young woman.

"Yes, absolutely," Mrs Tolley said.

"As Work and Income has said itself, it got it very wrong in this case.

"Work and Income did not apply the law correctly, and I appreciate that this was extremely distressing and upsetting for the young woman. I sincerely apologise for that."

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