A rape is never the victim’s fault.
Hopefully, Dear Reader, you read that line, rolled your eyes in exasperation and thought to yourself “sheesh, crazy lady, tell us something we don’t know!”.
Most of you will read no further for fear of encountering more mundane obviousness. But some of you will cock your head, maybe, say something like “weelllllll sometimes maybe it’s her fault… just a little bit…”. So this is for you douchebags in the latter group.
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Jill Meagher’s brutal death was seismic; it jolted us into grief and helplessness. Psychologists compared the outpouring of sadness over the Melbourne woman’s murder to that which followed Princess Diana’s death, when millions who’d never met her mourned her as a loved one.
Because Ms Meagher’s death appeared to be so random, it felt as though it could have been anyone, and we scrabbled for answers. One of the answers we found was surveillance; more CCTV cameras. Her mother called for them, and others joined the cry; Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu pledged $3 million for councils to put more cameras in.
What people seem to be missing here is that this crime was shocking at least partly because it was so unusual. The stranger, generally, is not the danger.
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As fireworks erupt at a night beach party, socially isolated teenager Frieda lays prone and sad in the back of a panel van, while a string of boys “take turns” with her. Others stand around and watch, and as Debbie and Sue wander past they remark: “There’s Frieda”.
They look back at her for a moment and then turn away, pinky-fingers linked, to rejoin their boyfriends. Frieda gazes sadly at them as the two best friends walk away.
This was the final scene of episode three of Puberty Blues, and at work the following day I mentioned how horrified I was by this scene and many other sexually violent situations depicted in the show. My colleague suggested that the experiences of female characters in the show are not the norm for girls of that age*.
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As more dire details ooze out, it becomes clearer that something has been festering in Defence for decades.
The Government released the DLA Piper report into allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence yesterday, and it was grim reading. Our military institutions over the past six decades have provided an excellent petri dish for abuse, cultivating many factors that increase risk.
Many of the findings were released earlier this year. Of 775 allegations most were plausible and “probably substantially accurate” and there were probably many more that weren’t reported to the review.
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Miniskirts will be declared pornography and Indonesia will ban them as a politician says “provocative clothing” made men “do things”.
Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali will ensure tough new anti-porn laws will include criteria such as “a skirt above the knee”, The Jakarta Post reports.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary speaker Marzuki Alie is drafting rules banning miniskirts in Parliament because “there have been a lot of rape cases and other immoral acts recently and this is because women aren’t wearing appropriate clothes”.
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In the film Balibo, five journalists paint an Australian flag and the word ‘Australia’ on the wall of their ‘safe’ house. They are then coldly executed by the invading Indonesians.
They believed – naively, in retrospect - that their very Australianness and their civilian status as journalists would save them.
Their brutal slaying outrages us, offends our sense of fairness – and shows that the concept of fairness is an odd sort of idea to have in the midst of carnage.
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I’ve always admired a man who knows his limitations. So when I read an extract from an old opinion column by former Queensland journo turned LNP candidate Gavin King, I had him pegged as my sort of bloke:
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but surely it is obvious that we should perform household chores we are best at, in the interests of efficiency and synergy. In other words, the missus irons my shirt because she is able to do it quickly and easily. In exchange, I make breakfast because pouring milk on to cereal is a task simple enough for me to achieve by 7.30am.”
Good on Gavin for realising that tipping a bit of cow juice on the family’s Weetbix is the extent of his talents on the domestic front. Unfortunately, recognising his strengths isn’t always his strong suit once he sets foot outside the door in his crisply ironed shirts.
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Moves are afoot in Ireland to lift the sacred secrecy of confession - so priests will be jailed if they don’t report child sex abuses revealed to them. SA Senator Nick Xenophon has been pushing for similar changes in Australia, arguing that innocent children deserve more protection than religious practice. We asked him for some more details.
What changes would you like to see in the way confessions are handled?
The admission of child abuse to a priest during confession should not be exempted from mandatory reporting requirements. No church should be complicit in the cover up of child abuse just so some paedophile can attempt to clear his conscience. The rule of law should come before religious beliefs, and there should be no exceptions.
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Recent news reports have highlighted the apparent difficulties in securing convictions where a person living with intellectual disability has been the victim of an alleged sexual assault.
Some alleged assaults take place where people are receiving care. This warrants closer examination, given the reasonable expectation that human services are meant to reduce risk of harm, not add to it.
Also, the greater the degree of disability a person lives with, the more likely it is the person will be living in a formal service arrangement, sharing with other people living with similar degrees of disability and served by staff.
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There’s a sort of mad, vindictive glee around the unraveling case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. A bit of ‘gotcha’ giddiness that this woman who made such devastating claims of rape against such an incredibly powerful figure is being shredded.
Each day has seen a frenzied media rip new chinks in her credibility with new claims; she changed her story; she lied about a gang rape; she associates with criminals; she’s a prostitute.
Bringing down this anonymous ‘maid’ has become a global blood sport. It may turn out that she had some insidious reason for toppling DSK. He may be innocent. At this murky point in the sordid tale almost anything seems possible.
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“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?”
When Sheik Al-Hilali made these comments characterising the uncovered female body as meat to be consumed, he was brutally condemned. The public outcry was exceptional: the Sheik was imposing a set of archaic beliefs that had no place in a progressive Australia.
Well, just how progressive are we? Such rhetoric is not confined to the auspices of Sharia law - it can be found in media reports, in political speeches, even judicial decisions. The implication is always the same: women must manage their sexuality appropriately, or face the risk of violence.
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A hotel worker’s allegations of sexual assault by International Monetary Fund chief and possible French presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn are disturbing. But also disturbing is the way the case is being reported in some sections of the media.
Strauss-Kahn has been arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a woman at his expensive hotel suite in New York. This is a summary of the story from the New York Times:
According to the law enforcement official, the woman entered Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s suite early Saturday afternoon by saying “housekeeping”. She heard no answer and believed that the suite was unoccupied. She left the door open behind her, as is hotel policy.
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One of the beautiful things about the internet is that you can quickly and easily hear from people with vastly different views from your own.
For example, I wrote a piece yesterday about SlutWalks, a series of worldwide protests reclaiming the word slut, but more importantly railing against the idea that a woman is ever to blame for her own sexual assault or rape.
I had (blithely, it must be admitted) assumed that people no longer blame victims for being victims, and realise that of course it is the perpetrator at fault.
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Spida Everitt has done two things this morning. He’s confirmed that he’s a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who thinks that women who have a few drinks and go home with a bloke are asking for it. And he’s put his job with Foxtel on the line.
The former St Kilda ruckman offered these screwed-up musings on the sexual assault investigation involving two Collingwood players via Twitter this morning.
His first tweet read: “Yet another alleged girl, making alleged allegations, after she awoke with an alleged hangover and I take it an alleged guilty conscience.”
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The NRL Footy Show might be good for a lot of things – such as cross-dressing or making jokes about people who wear tracksuits and live in Bankstown – but it’s probably not the ideal forum for an impartial examination of the law of sexual assault.
For starters, there appears to be a small issue with gender balance. To describe the program as blokey doesn’t do it justice. Like its AFL equivalent, this all-male show has long resisted attempts to bring female analysts of the game into the fold, either by ostracising them on the rare occasion they are allowed on air, or by rubbishing their work at rival media outlets.
Given that the program is presented by former greats of the game, it is heavily skewed towards the players’ perspective when it comes to the degree of scrutiny they face, the demands placed on them, their hounding by fans and groupies.
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On Friday week, October 30, the annual Reclaim the Night marches will be held in cities and towns around Australia. Find more information here. The Punch received this contribution from a young woman who has asked us to publish it anonymously to chronicle her story of surviving sexual assault.
Today I did something I never thought I would do again – I pulled out a figure-hugging outfit from my closet and put it on. I even made it out the door and to work still wearing it.
This particular outfit was a favourite for some years, but ever since an article in a newspaper four years ago I have been unable to wear it without feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable.
You see, I am a rape survivor.
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