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Bev Short's All Woman exhibition at the NZ Portrait Gallery was always going to include a woman police officer, but the haunting shot of Detective Constable Lesa Eastergaard with a young girl is a far cry from what the Wellington-based photographer originally had in mind.
"I wanted a woman who was trained in firearms and did rough stuff things like the blokes. Lesa was suggested as she had done all manner of firearms training. She'd also worked with the Tactical Police Unit and trained in riot control," says Short.
"When we met at the police station to work out the photo shoot, Lesa was approached by a colleague who talked about a hospital visit they'd made that morning to a woman who'd been so severely beaten by her partner she could have died.
"We started talking about family violence in New Zealand and it was then that I discovered the high statistics of family violence and murder in this country. I had no idea. I felt it was something that should be highlighted and that's when I came up with the idea for our shoot."
Family violence accounts for more than 50 percent of homicides in New Zealand. Police attend over 80,000 incidents of family violence annually.
"Family violence specialists are located in every Police District and we work closely with partner agencies like Child Youth and Family, Women's Refuge and Shine," says Wellington-based Detective Sergeant Mark Scott.
"Family violence is a large aspect of police work and women in policing play a pivotal role in investigating and preventing it. If you or anyone you know is experiencing family violence you need to seek help. The Police website lists a number of agencies that can assist, including the Are You OK? information line. If you are in immediate danger you need to dial 111," says Detective Sergeant Scott.
To view a video on Bev Short's All Woman show and hear Detective Sergeant Mark Scott's advice on what to do if you are experiencing family violence go to:
Lesa Eastergaard also features in the latest issue of Police magazine Ten One.
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