Many thanks to Sheryl-Lee Kerr for the transcript

AFP Newswire Story

11 September 2000


WELLINGTON, Sept 10 AFP - The globally-famous TV Warrior Princess Xena, alias Auckland actress Lucy Lawless, has launched a real-life crusade against child abuse in New Zealand. Like many New Zealanders shocked by a recent spate of horrific cases in which children -- some under two years of age -- were raped, burned, tortured and beaten to death by members of their own families, Lawless felt compelled to do something to halt the violence.

Lawless hit the headlines this week when she volunteered to help, albeit without being too specific as to how, combat child abuse. She has since become the face of a national campaign, headed by Auckland Starship Hospital for Children's Safe and Sound Action Group, which aims to raise money for child protection agencies and to highlight the need for citizens to report abuse.

As a mother of two, who grew up in a caring family, the 32-year old told the Sunday Star-Times she would lend her profile and energy, rather than wisdom and advice. Her passionate stance against child abuse was ``given as a mother and a citizen'', she said. She has already encountered criticism from some members of the public as an inappropriate role model because the Xena TV show is the antithesis of loving and caring, the Times said.

An indignant Lawless said: ``I just thought 'Wow, what part of your psyche makes it okay to say abused children don't need the help of a sinner like me?' Maybe these kids have fallen so low that even somebody like me can reach out a helping hand. Abused children need every friend they can get.

``If they (the critics) had bothered to watch, Xena is about the triumph of love, friendship and forgiveness in a dangerous world, and mostly about empowerment and that's what these kids need.''

She has steered clear of debate focusing on the high rate of abuse among Maori families. Health statistics show Maori children are nearly five times more likely to be abused by their families than other ethnic groups. Maori make up about 15 percent of New Zealand's population.

The megastar said she had told someone who believed child abuse was primarily a Polynesian issue that no one could disown the problem. ``The pain of abuse hurts just as much if you have brown skin or white,'' she said.


Return to Lucy Lawless Starship Foundation Site
Return to AUSXIP - Lucy Lawless Files
Return to Lucy Lawless Articles