Where does Fairfax get their stats from?

November 23rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A year may have passed but the message is still the same. 

The second annual National Day of Action to Bust Rape Culture was held in Auckland and Wellington today.   

Organsier Jessie Hume and 200 other supporters turned out to the High Court in Auckland this afternoon to demand resolutions to an “endemic and devastating” rape culture. 

Hume said half of the supporters formed a circle with one donning red to represent the one in 100 women who receive justice in the form of accountability through the courts when making a rape complaint. 

It’s thought just ten per cent of sexual assaults are reported and only one per cent of those will lead to a conviction, according to the Ministry of Justice. 

I have great sympathy for the cause, but less sympathy for dodgy statistics.

The statistic on only 10% of sexual assaults are reported could well be true, sadly.  It comes from a 2001 report and anecdotal evidence from female (and some male) friends is that many have been assaulted and not reported it.

But the 1% figure is clearly wrong. Fairfax have written it in a way that states only 1% of those reported will lead to a conviction.

I blogged in 2009 on an excellent report by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs which reviewed 2,000 sexual violation complaints over a 30 month period.

They found 13% of complaints lead to a conviction, and of complaints deemed “valid”, 20% led to a conviction.

Not don’t get me wrong both figures are too low, and the story is right that we should have a higher conviction rate for valid complaints. But they are massively higher than 1%.

The research on what happens to complaints is interesting. The data is:

  • 8% deemed “false” by Police
  • 26% deemed “no offence” which usually means the victim withdrew the complaint. This doesn’t mean there was no offence, just that the complainant didn’t want to proceed.
  • 11% did not have a suspect identified
  • 24% did have a suspect identified but were not prosecuted. It was stated this is normally due to victim withdrawal, insufficient evidence or conflicting evidence
  • 18% did lead to a prosecution but the person was found not guilty or the case dropped
  • 13% were prosecuted and a person convicted

Of the 31% that went to trial, 16% had a guilty plea, 30% had the case withdrawn or discharged and 52% went to trial. The conviction rate for those that went to trial was 49% guilty and 51% acquitted.

The biggest factor is victim withdrawal – either initially, or before charges are laid or even charges are laid. This is not surprising as going forward can be extremely traumatizing.  This is where I think the focus should be – on having a less traumatic judicial process for victims. But I don’t support changing the burden of proof as proposed by Andrew Little.

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Should we keep juries for rape trials?

September 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Rape myths do the most damage when they show up among jurors – and for that reason, juries should not be part of sexual assault trials, Louise Nicholas says.

The anti-rape advocate believes jurors in such trials often bring their own biases and trauma about the crime into the courtroom.

“People go in with their own thinking. They may have been a victim of sex violence in their lifetime, and a lot of those people have their judgments, like I didn’t need a counsellor, I didn’t need to go through this.

“To take jurors out of the process is a huge step forward to abolishing rape myths.”

I’m massively against Labour’s policy to make people who have sex prove they are innocent of rape. Reversing the burden of proof is an horrific idea.

But I think there are more balanced arguments over whether rape trials should be with Judges only.

Nicholas was in Wellington to talk to Victoria University students about sexual assault and the justice system, days after Wellington police dropped a sexual assault inquiry into an incident outside Massey University last month.

Nicholas said false allegations of rape make it harder for victims. “We certainly do have women, in particular, who come forward because they’re pissed off about their boyfriend shagging their mate.”

The danger was that the public then started to assume all claims were false, she said. “It does put a stigma on other victims.”

Good to see Nicholas talk about the damage caused by false allegations. They harm actual rape victims.

The removal of jurors from rape trials was recommended by the Law Commission in 2012, but was rejected by the Government.

Acting Justice Minister Chris Finlayson said that the right to a jury trial was a fundamental part of the criminal justice system, but the re-traumatising of victims should not be.

“The Ministry of Justice is working on legislation to tighten the rules about questioning a complainant about previous sexual experiences, and establishing a presumption that child witnesses give their evidence via the video of their police interview.”

Which seem reasonable steps.

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Labour’s guilty until proven innocent law makes the UK newspapers

July 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Independent (UK) reports:

New Zealand’s second-largest political party wants to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases if it gets into power, making defendants prove their innocence to reduce the trauma suffered by victims.

Andrew Little, the Labour Party’s justice spokesman, has outlined plans for a monumental shift in the justice system in the run-up to the country’s general elections in September.

They won’t remain second largest as more and more people hear about their policy. But well done Labour on making international headlines for their policy.

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Labour and human rights

July 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Labour’s policy to make people accused of sexual assault prove their innocence is in stark contrast to this. Labour are saying that the presumption of innocence will be reversed if you are accused of sexual assault or rape, if the only issue is consent, not that sex occurred.

The Green Party has policy saying:

Encourage commitment to international human rights as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions, and support the work of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

So my question to the Greens is, do they support Labour’s policy to reverse the burden of proof for consent in rape cases?

How can you claim to support the UDHR and even entertain for a second Labour’s policy?

While David Cunliffe has backed away from the policy, saying they are just considering it, Andrew Little explicitly said on Twitter changing the burden of proof is policy, and Little is still advocating for the change. Until such a time as Labour unambiguously says there is no chance of a change to burden of proof under Labour, the only safe thing to do is assume it is likely to occur if they get into Government.

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Little on the presumption of innocence

July 11th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Meet your next Justice Minister people. The Herald reports:

Labour’s justice spokesman Andrew Little did not think the party’s proposal would lead to more innocent people being convicted.

“I don’t see why. You’re assuming that there is a propensity to lay false complaints. There is no evidence pointing to that.”

So Labour’s next Justice Minister thinks that an accusation is all you need to convict someone, as there are no false complaints.

Why doesn’t he go the whole hog, and save us the expense of trials. You’re accused, and you’re automatically guilty. Bang.

Again I urge everyone to make sure people understand that if Labour is elected, you will need to prove your innocence if you have sex with someone and are accused of rape.

David Cunliffe has started to back away from the policy, but Andrew Little has confirmed it is official policy and is obviously still extremely wedded to it.

I would have thought Mr Little would not have to think too far back in Labour’s recent past to think of how stupid it is to have a presumption of guilt based on allegation.

I am staggered that this policy got approved by the Labour Party. It is horrendous and wrong. Unless they rule it out totally, then don’t vote for them if you believe in the presumption of innocence.

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No Right Turn on the presumption of innocence

July 10th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn blogs on Labour’s policy to require those accused of rape to prove they had consent:

This clearly violates the presumption of innocence affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act (not to mention the Universal Declaration of Human RightsICCPR, and every other major human rights instrument). Under that presumption, the state has to prove each and every aspect of its case (“the burden of proof is on he who declares, not on he who denies”). That’s clearly not the case under Labour’s proposal.

Our Supreme Court has already found that the presumption of supply in the Misuse of Drugs Act violates the Bill of Rights Act for exactly these reasons. They will draw exactly the same conclusion about this proposal – as will the UN Human Rights Commission.

I accept that rape cases are difficult to prove. This change will make them remarkably easier. If Labour gets its way, there will be a lot more convictions for rape. And a lot more of them will be of innocent people. We presume innocence because we believe it is far better for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to be punished. Labour clearly does not believe that any more.

A party which does not believe in and will not defend the presumption of innocence does not deserve your vote. All they deserve is your contempt. If they retain this policy, you should not vote Labour.

I can not believe they will not back down on this policy. Surely it is just a matter of time.

I’m surprised the Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association have been silent on Labour’s policy. It’s hard to think of a policy that strikes more at the heart of the justice system.

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Herald picks up on Labour’s policy to make you prove consent if you have sex

July 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour Party’s plan to reform the criminal justice system would mean that the accused in a rape case would have to prove consent to be found innocent — a change it acknowledges as a monumental shift.

Every New Zealander needs to know about this insane policy of Labour;s.

The policy would mean that in a rape case, if the Crown proved a sexual encounter and the identity of the defendant, it would be rape unless the defendant could prove it was consensual.

This could lead to a huge increase in people videotaping their encounters, as it is the only way to prove consent.

Think about all the times you have had sex with someone, and how often could you *prove* consent. Bear in mind that even if you are married to them, that is not proof. If you split with your ex, then all they have to do is head to the cops and say the sex you had six weeks ago was not consensual. Now you then have to *prove* there was consent. Proof is not just casting doubt on the allegation – it is proof that you had consent. Now think about how could you prove you had consent. Doubt is not enough. If it is what you say vs what they say, you will lose.

I’m not sure there is a (western) country in the world that requires you to prove consent when it comes to allegations of sexual assault. There’s a reason for that.

“The Crown has to prove more than just sex; the issue of consent has to be raised by the Crown, they have to prove the identity of the offender. They would have to bear that burden of proof before a switch to the defence to prove consent,” Mr Little said.

Which is a barrier in stranger rape allegations. But no barrier to the large number of cases when the issue is consent, not identity.

He said the issue of proof would only apply where allegations of rape had been raised.

“It is pretty radical thing to say that ‘all sex is rape’ unless you prove consent. The reality is that in 99.9 per cent of cases, no one is being asked to prove consent.”

So reassuring. So long as there is no accusation.

Mr Little said the inquisitorial system still preserved those principles because the Crown would still have to prove a number of aspects of a case before consent was explored.

“I don’t accept that that is creating an offence under which the defendant is guilty until proven innocent.”

They are, once the fact of sex is established – they must then prove their innocence.

If you ever needed a reason to convince your friends and neighbours not to vote Labour, this is it. I predict Labour will be forced to abandon this policy, as more and more people become aware of it – but can you trust them not to implement it after the election regardless?

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Sex contracts

July 7th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s new policy is that if you have sex with someone, you need to prove there was consent, otherwise you are guilty of rape.

In anticipation no doubt of such insanity becoming law if Labour wins, there is a site which offers contracts that you can get your partner to sign prior to sex. There’s one for women and men.

It’s very detailed, so you have an absolute defence in court, as to what has and has not been consented to. The kissing section is:

Consent yes/no to:

  • closed mouth kissing
  • open-mouthed kissing with lips 
  • open-mouthed kissing with tongue
  • light biting/nibbling
  • heavy biting/nibbling
  • kissed on the face and neck

It usefully also includes a check box saying that you will not hold the kisser responsible for hickeys :-)

The other sections are somewhat more explicit, so I won’t repeat them here. Highly amused though by being able to specify a maximum number of fingers :-)

If Labour’s don’t ditch their insane policy, I’m thinking the Young Nationals could print out these sex contracts, with a Labour Party logo, and distribute them around bars and nightclubs so people understand that if Labour get elected, you need to prove you are not a rapist if you have sex with someone.

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Labour’s official policy is you must prove you are not a rapist

July 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This is a major policy by Labour, that has had very little attention. It is now Labour Party policy that you have to prove your innocence if accused of rape.

Andrew Little said on the 2nd of July:

“A better measure would be to hand control of all examination of a victim to the judge with lawyers for both sides notifying the court which issues they want dealt with, along with shifting the burden of proof on the issue of consent to the defence.

This means that if two people have sex, and one person accuses the other of rape, then the accused must prove beyond reasonable doubt they had consent.

Now you might think this is just Andrew Little musing aloud. Not so.  He confirms in this tweet it is official policy.

Graeme Edgeler sums their policy up:

Andrew Little says:

“This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty – the basic facts of the case still have to be made out – but it does mean the prosecution doesn’t need to prove a negative, namely that there was no consent.

This is sophistry. If the act of sex is not disputed, just consent, then the defendant does have to prove themselves innocent.

I wonder how many hours it will take until Labour does a u-turn on their policy, once people realise its implications.

Rape is a terrible crime, and the court process is very hard on many victims, and I am sure it can be improved. But reversing the presumption of innocence and burden of proof is not the answer.

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Gang rape as a punishment for dating outside the village

January 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

This is like something from the 1500s. Can not believe it could happen in 2014. Stuff reports:

A 20-year-old woman in eastern India was gang-raped by 13 men on the orders of a village court as punishment for having a relationship with a man from a different community, a senior police officer says.

The woman, who is now recovering in hospital, told police she was assaulted by the men on the night of January 20 in Birbhum district in West Bengal.

Police said that her male companion was tied up in the village square, while the assault on the woman happened in a mud house.

“We arrested all the 13 men, including the village chief who ordered the gang rape. The accused have been produced in court which remanded them to jail custody,” Birbhum’s Superintendent of Police, C. Sudhakar, said.

I’m tempted to suggest that the 13 men should face gang rape as their own punishment, but of course two wrongs do not make a right, even if there would be an element of karma in it.

I don’t know much about the Indian penal code, but hopefully the village chief can be sent away for 15+ years, which would send a message to others.

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Moving Stories

November 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A New Zealand journalists blogs:

I am a journalist and for the past week or so my work-related world has revolved around the so-called Roast Busters case.

I am also a survivor of sexual assault. …

I’ve learned, over my years as a journalist, to hold the horrible things at arm’s length, to let myself feel the pain of them but not to let them affect the other parts of my life. I love my job, and to me it’s largely worth that effort. But the ugly jolt of alleged sex crimes as shocking as these ones, a case that dominates the discourse of an entire country for days on end, sends concentric ripples into the rest of my life as well.

By the second day of the Roast Busters story, my jaw hurt from clenching it. As each new detail came out and was discussed around me in the office, I got a weird, floating feeling in my arms and legs that I know from experience to be adrenalin. After a few bursts of it I was exhausted, but I lay in bed later – one in the morning, two, three – unable to sleep. My eyes were gritty and I picked at the skin on my fingers until, by the third day, my hands looked worse than they had in years. I started feeling too sick to my stomach to eat.

I thought about posting something on Facebook, but there are members of my family who don’t know I was sexually assaulted. I’m Facebook friends with colleagues who are expecting me to cover the Roast Busters case and don’t know I was assaulted. Newsrooms are tough places and people expect that journalists will behave like tough people. I’ve no doubt that I’m Facebook friends with survivors I don’t know about, who are just as nervous about being outed as I am in this situation. I’m seeing a guy who doesn’t know yet about this thing in my past, and probably doesn’t need to find out in a pained, wounded social media rant. So I stayed silent.

I this this whole sage has probably been painful for many victims of rape and sexual assault. The entire blog post is very raw but real.

Over at I am someone, a number of victims tell their stories. I won’t even try to quote from their stories but it is hard to read a 14 year old girl writing about the friend’s father who assaulted her when she was nine. But reading their stories is not in the same universe as telling them.

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Why I couldn’t be a defence lawyer

November 14th, 2013 at 5:29 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A young Wellington woman raped by a bouncer in an alleyway could have “closed her legs” if she didn’t want sex, the man’s lawyer told a jury. …

He claimed the woman made a false complaint to police six days later because she regretted the sex. There was no struggle or any threats, nor was there violence, Jefferies said in his closing arguments yesterday.

“All she would have had to do was to close her legs . . . it’s as simple as that,” he told the jury. “Why didn’t she do that? . . . The reason she didn’t do that was because the sex was consensual, as easy as that.” …

Jefferies said after the verdict that his comments were made as part of the defence, and were not his personal view.

“This is the defence of a criminal charge. The Crown and the judge didn’t complain about it.”

The case revolved around whether sex was consensual, which made the complainant’s position important, he said.

“The accused was of the view there was an element of willingness from the accuser, and that she was a willing partner. What I say to the jury doesn’t represent my personal view. It merely represents the defence.”

He is just doing his job, but personally speaking I don’t think I could do a job where I have to advocate that a woman consented to sex just because she didn’t close her legs.

 

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Hooton vs Willie and JT

November 7th, 2013 at 4:09 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton lets loose to Willie and JT about their previous shows on the Roast Busters. He gets thrown out.

Well done Matthew. Making excuses for the men involved on the basis of where they live or how the girls dressed is just wrong. The girls were 13. That is the end of it.

Matthew has Facebooked:

 I don’t want to be all moralistic about this, because I have behaved terribly from time to time.

But I have two daughters, aged 6 and 8. I hope not, but I expect that if they follow the example of their parents they will behave appallingly when they are teens. I expect they will dress in ways I find reprehensible, hang out with friends I disapprove of, and might get shamefully pissed at what was meant to be a wholesome 15th birthday party.

To some extent, this will be my fault for not being as a good a parent as I should be. 

However, when my 14 year-old girls do behave badly, I expect that any 17 year-old men nearby will, at worst, ignore them or, at best, look after them and get them home safely.

My daughters are entitled to rebel and behave badly, without being raped.

That is the point.

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More on Roast Busters

November 7th, 2013 at 5:50 am by David Farrar

3 News last night reported:

Ever since 3 News broke the story of the west Auckland Roast Busters, police have maintained they couldn’t prosecute the underage sex gang until they received a complaint from a victim.

Tonight it can be revealed the police did receive a complaint from one girl; two years ago.

The girl, now 15, says she felt it was her word against the Roast Busters and no charges were laid.

“This is my chance to say something. I couldn’t do anything two years ago. I want to do something now,” she told 3 News, in the presence of her mother and sister.

She wanted to be identified, but for legal reasons she is unable to be shown or named. She says she was sexually assaulted by the Roast Busters when she was 13.

“Joseph was on my left side. Tristram was on my right. And Beraiah was on top […] I was a virgin.”

She says she was “terrified”.

“I started crying and was asking Beraiah to hop off and I was scared and stuff […] I was more traumatised that I was 13 and losing my virginity.”

She says she was telling them to stop and get off her, but they continued. It was Joseph, she says, who eventually stopped it.

“He said ‘Beraiah get off her or you’ll be done for rape’ […] He said ‘oh shit’, and hopped off.”

She believes she was one of the first victims. Afterwards, she blamed herself. She stopped eating and it took weeks to tell her family.

They immediately took her to the police, where she says she laid a complaint. Her brother handed over the boys’ names and addresses to the detective.

“I had a video interview where I had to act out what had happened with dolls […] It was traumatising.”

But, apparently, it wasn’t enough. She said she felt like it was her word against the Roast Busters.

“They said that I didn’t have enough evidence to show. Because I went out in clothes that was pretty much asking for it. […] I was asked a lot of questions about what I was wearing, and I went out in a skirt.

“If it was me, it could be any of my friends. I knew it would carry on ,” she says. 

“I can’t believe nothing was done then. From then I have had my friends sexually abused by them. How many girls have been raped? I have seen posts done by girls saying Roast Busters ruined their lives […] They’ve gotten away with so much.”

The girl plans to lay another complaint with police tomorrow.

There may be two sides to this story but one the face of it, this is appalling. Regardless of any issues around proving consent, this doesn’t apply as she was 13. I can’t understand how this did not lead to a prosecution.

It is good the complaint is being re-laid.  The challenge for the Police is to convince people that the culture that was evident in some (not all) areas of the Police with regards to sexual violence and women in the past, has been changed. It is not apparent it has. The sad thing with this is a number of female friends who have remarked that if they were raped as a young woman, they would not (or did not) go to the Police.
Of course it is not just the Police who may have a culture problem.  In this Stuff article, the “Roast Busters” are defended by some of their female friends:

The Roast Busters are being publicly defended by an unlikely source – their female friends.

The young women say the girls involved with the Roast Busters knew exactly what they were getting into. Many of the girls had group sex with the gang more than once, showing that they were willing participants, the friends claim.

Many, is not all. It doesn’t matter if 95% were willing participants if 5% were not.

Hargreaves and four of her friends appeared on TV3 last night, speaking out on behalf of the group. They said Hales and Parker were “not rapists” but “cool dudes”, and that drunken group sex was actually “normal in West Auckland”.

“Not for everybody though it’s just the young ones – 13 to 15-year-olds – that’s what they do”, one of the girls claimed.

That is very very sad. I’m sure not applying to all of West Auckland, but there is obviously a sub-culture where it is, and presumably huge peer pressure to conform.

UPDATE: Stuff now reports that the Police in fact had four complaints in the past about members of Roast Busters. This is a very serious situation for the Police as they had been saying that they could do nothing because there had been no complaints.

There are now multiple issues for the Police to deal with.

  1. Why did they say there had been no complaints, when there had been four? My assumption is a communications stuff up rather than malice, but it simply isn’t good enough. This information should have been made available to the hierarchy the moment the public spotlight turned on these West Auckland youths.
  2. Why were there no prosecutions in the past? Now we need to be careful here as the Police are independent and are the ones who have to weigh up whether a prosecution can succeed. And lack of consent can be very difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt. However if the girls complaining were under 16, then the issue of consent is not necessary for a prosecution. Now again, some judgement here is needed. If two teenagers both aged say 15 and a half have consensual sex, and say the parents of the girl complain, I don’t see much merit in turning the 15 and a half year old boy into a criminal. But if the girls are themselves the complainants and they are aged under 16, then it seems a case for prosecution. Other factors can be the age difference. Two 15 year olds is different to say a 19 year old and a 14 year old.
  3. If there were four complaints, why did the Police not take some other action, short of prosecution. Were any of the young men interviewed and cautioned? That in itself would be a good way to scare them into not thinking it is okay to get young under age girls drunk so you can have sex with them.
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An appalling interview

November 6th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

RadioLive hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere have been accused of supporting rape culture and “victim blaming” after their treatment of a female caller who is a friend of an alleged victim of the Roast Busters group.

The 18-year-old woman, who called herself Amy, called the RadioLive show yesterday to talk to the pair about the Roast Busters, only to have the hosts describe the group’s online bragging about sexual encounters with drunk underage girls as “mischief”.

Amy was asked “how free and easy are you kids these days?” when she told Jackson and Tamihere she had attended parties the teenagers involved in Roast Busters were at, and she often saw them, sober, providing drinks to girls as young as 13.

The hosts discussed underage drinking, and why the girls were at parties without their parents’ consent. “Girls shouldn’t be drinking anyway, should they?”

The segment at the link is an appalling interview. It appeared to all be Willie Jackson, than JT – I presume there is a fuller version somewhere. But talking about whether a 13 year old girl has been drinking totally misses the point – they are 13, and they’re drunk. Even worse, it isn’t that both parties are drunk – this is young guys being stone cold sober and plying girls with alcohol.

Good on Amy for speaking up against the predatory behaviour of these students.

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Too stupid to breed – Roast Busters

November 5th, 2013 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A portrait emerging of the teenager at the centre of Roast Busters scandal shows a young man obsessed with group sex with his childhood friend – and who had little regard for issues of consent and respect towards women.

Police are investigating the group of Auckland men, understood to be aged 17 and 18, who allegedly had group sex with drunk teenage girls and bragged about it online. The allegations were first brought to their attention two years ago, and there has been criticism about the delay.

It’s bad enough to think there is something good or cool about having sex with people too drunk to consent (and underage), but a certain kind of stupid to also brag about it online.

Hales’ main partner in the ”Roast Busters” sex gang appeared to be his mate Joseph Levall Parker, 18, but Hales denied there was anything ”gay” about having group sex with his friend.

”We have all been very good mates for years so we are comfortable around each other, we even walk around naked? [sic]”

Psychologists could have fun with that one.

Another of the girls has told 3 News that she only had sex with the Roast Busters because she was drunk.

”I just kept blacking out ’cause I had drunken too much,” she says. ”You could say I got raped. I had sex with three guys at one time.”

Under the law, someone does not consent to sexual activity ”if the activity occurs while he or she is so affected by alcohol or some other drug that he or she cannot consent or refuse to consent to the activity”.

If she was blacking out, there is no doubt she was unable to consent.

I think there is always a good question to ask if you in a situation where alcohol is involved. It is whether you think the other person in the morning will be happy about what happened, once they are sober. If you have any doubt about the answer being yes, then don’t go there.

It’s very sad that these young guys had a culture of acceptance of predatory behaviour (at best) or rape (at worst), and that it has taken so long for them to get the message how unacceptable it is.

If some victims come forward to complain, that will be a good thing – and send out a strong message.

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Blaming the victim

September 18th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Indian lawyer for two of the four Delhi gang rapists sentenced to hang last week has criticised the victim’s parents for allowing her to go out at night with a boy, and claimed he would have “burnt her alive” if she had been his daughter.

The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, was attacked by five men and a juvenile on a bus she boarded with her boyfriend. The couple were on their way home from a popular Delhi shopping mall on December 16 last year.

She was gang-raped and attacked with an iron rod. She died two weeks later in hospital.

AP Singh, a defence lawyer who represented two of the convicts, claimed she had had premarital sex and said: “If my daughter was having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would have burnt her alive. All parents should adopt such an attitude.”

All women should burn the defence lawyer alive for being an arsehole and see how he likes it.

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Guilty

September 11th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Indian court convicted four men of the gang rape and “cold-blooded” murder of a student on a New Delhi bus in a crime that sickened the nation and led to new laws to tackle endemic sex crime.

Judge Yogesh Khanna said the men, who could now face the death penalty, were guilty of murdering a “helpless victim” last December, as he announced that arguments for sentencing of the four would be held tomorrow.

“I convict all of the accused,” Khanna told a packed court room. “They have been found guilty of gang rape, unnatural offences, destruction of evidence … and for committing the murder of the helpless victim.”

The four – Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, aged between 19 and 29 at the time of the crime – had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The men, whose faces were shown by the media for the first time, were economic migrants living in or around a south Delhi slum who were drawn to the city to escape grinding rural poverty.

The victim’s parents, who wept in court as the verdict was announced, have led the calls for them to be hanged, saying that they would only find closure if the four are executed.

It was a horrific crime, and the horror of it has (hopefully) led to a change in both the tolerance and prevalence of sexual assaults in India.

The attack sparked weeks of sometimes violent street protests across India with seething public anger about sex crimes against women.

It also led to tougher laws being passed by parliament in March for sex offenders, including the death penalty for rapists whose victims die or are left in a vegetative state.

But savage attacks against women are still reported daily in India’s newspapers and the gang rape of a photographer last month near an upmarket area of Mumbai rekindled public disgust.

I presume there is some sort for global report that ranks countries from best to worst for women to live in? Would be interesting to see where India is placed.

Quite remarkable in hindsight that Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister, especially in an era where female leaders anywhere was very rare. She became PM in 1966!

Of course the violence against women in India is done by a very small minority. But it does seem until recently it has been swept under the carpet rather than confronted and all efforts made to minimise it.

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Sex trials

August 14th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

Sexual violence survivors are launching a push for alternatives to jury trials in a bid to avoid retraumatising victims.

Speakers at a seminar in Auckland yesterday said fundamental changes were needed so raped and abused women were not “revictimised” by lawyers’ cross-examination of their sexual histories in front of juries, while offenders could stay silent.

Many victims of rape do have to undergo an appalling process in court. At least with almost no deposition hearings now, they only go through it once.

However not everyone accused and charged is guilty. They have a right to have the evidence of their alleged victim cross-examined by their lawyer. There would be a risk of more innocent people going to prison, if they don’t have a right to challenge evidence fully.

Also as I understand it the sexual history of the victim is generally off-limit in court – unless it relates to the particular person or incident.

Justice Minister Judith Collins has halted work on proposals in a Law Commission issues paper last year to change the adversarial court system to an “inquisitorial” system where a judge controls what evidence is presented and how it is given, questions witnesses before letting lawyers fill in the gaps, and requires defendants to give evidence first.

She said last September that it would not be practical to have an inquisitorial system for sexual offences but not for other cases, because sexual offenders might also face other charges.

An inquisitorial system has its pros and cons. I wouldn’t mind having it more fully considered – but I agree it would be difficult to do for some offences only.

 

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Craig Crofts

April 16th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An Invercargill man convicted of raping a woman in 2004 is angry she was upset by his appearance outside her house on Sunday and says what happened is in the past and she needs to get over what happened.

Craig Crofts moved next door to the woman in 2011, which outraged the community and spurred the justice minister to propose an amendment to the Harassment Act.

Crofts had moved from that address but on Sunday was seen outside the woman’s house by her partner, who said Crofts was at the end of the driveway. …

Yesterday, Crofts said he lived four blocks from the woman and had every right to walk down the street.

He had been returning from his father’s house and, though it was not his usual route, he had done nothing wrong.

There was “no particular reason” he had chosen to walk down that street, he said. As he was walking past the woman’s house, her neighbour had called out to him. He had said hello to the neighbour, but he did not stop at the end of her driveway, he said.

“It’s been eight years – it’s in the past. It’s a public area and it’s my right to walk down the street. I don’t want anything to do with her. I got over it; she needs to get over it, too.”

What a nasty piece of work. There is no way he just happened to walk home that way, and stop. He is harrassing her, after raping her.

Crofts has at least 77 convictions and has been sent to prison on 13 or more occasions. Sadly he only got four years for the 2004 rape. Since then he has been back inside at least twice – relating to breaches of harassment orders and stealing women’s underwear.

Last year, Justice Minister Judith Collins proposed a new protection order under the Harassment Act following The Southland Times’ story about Crofts moving next door to the woman he raped.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for Ms Collins said the proposed order was a priority for the minister and would probably be introduced to the House in late May.

The order would allow victims of a serious violent or sexual offence to apply to the court for protection. The advantage would be the new order relies on an application by the victim, and could include special conditions designed to address the particular circumstances of the case.

Breaching the order could be punishable by up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine not exceeding $5000.

For two breaches in three years, the maximum penalty would be increased to two years’ imprisonment for a third contravention.

Sounds very much needed for cases like this.

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He should have stood trial

March 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of the men accused of raping a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus found dead in jail. …

The alleged ringleader in a gang rape and murder case that sparked outrage across India, Singh was found dead in his prison cell on Monday, once again putting the New Delhi slum he used to call home in an unwanted spotlight.

This is a pity. I think more good would have been done by having him stand trial, and the country and the world hearing what happened.

Authorities in New Delhi’s Tihar jail said Singh hanged himself before dawn. His father rejected that explanation, saying he believed his son was murdered.

“He confessed about his mistake, then why would he commit suicide? He was prepared for any punishment the government would have given him,” Mange Lal Singh told reporters in his home in the slum.

His mistake???

I think we are starting to see how attitudes can be passed on from one generation to the next.

Legal experts said Singh’s death does not undermine the prosecution’s case against the other accused, which was largely based on DNA evidence and the testimony of the rape victim before she died and her friend.

Good.

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For some human rights?

February 12th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Stone at the NZ Herald:

A leading human rights lawyer yesterday hit out at a decision banning a West Papua independence activist from speaking at Parliament.

Jennifer Robinson, a member of Julian Assange’s defence team, is in New Zealand briefly with Benny Wenda, a leader of the self-determination campaign for West Papua, which is under Indonesian control.

Is the right not to be raped not a human right? Is it a human right to flee justice rather than fight rape charges in court?

Not sure how you can be called a leading human rights lawyer, when you argue against alleged victims of rape being given a chance to have their case heard in court.

Note I am not saying Assange is guilty of rape. I am saying that he is not above the law, and should fight his case in court. It’s paranoid nonsense to suggest two hard core left-wing anti-US activist Swedish women are part of a plot to get him to the United States.

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Abhorrent attitudes

January 10th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Indian spiritual leader has sparked outcry by claiming the student raped and murdered in New Delhi was partly responsible for what happened and should have pleaded with her attackers to leave her alone.

It was the latest in a series of controversial comments campaigners say highlight a mindset within the heartland of India that permits such assaults to take place.

Asaram Bapu, a self-styled guru, told followers in Rajasthan the 23-year-old was “as guilty as her rapists”. He claimed: “The five or six drunken men were not the only ones guilty. The girl was also responsible … she should have called the culprits ‘brothers’ and begged them to stop.”

I’m pretty sure she did, as they raped her to death.

Words can’t express how angry comments like this make me. In my darker moments I almost wish a group of men would rape and violate the self-styled guru, and see if at the end of it he still blames the victim.

A Chhattisgarh provincial minister said sexual assaults on women were taking place because “women’s stars are not in their favour”. He made the comment after allegations emerged that 11 tribal girls had been raped by a teacher in the state.

Words fail me.

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The India rape victim dies

December 30th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India died from her injuries, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage.

The unidentified 23-year-old medical student suffered a brain injury and massive internal damage in the December 16 attack and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.

Protesters rallied peacefully in the capital New Delhi and other cities across the country to keep the pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to get tougher on crimes against women. That was in contrast to the pitched battles protesters fought with police last weekend.

I wasn’t previously aware that India was so backwards in its treatment of sex crimes against women. I was aware how barbaric it was in certain Middle Eastern countries and parts of Africa. But this case has really shone the light on India.

Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women.

Political leaders vowed steps to correct “shameful social attitudes” towards women in the world’s biggest democracy.

The details of the attack are gruesome, made almost unbelievable that it was allowed to occur on a moving bus for an hour – and no one called the Police.

“For some reason, and I don’t really know why, she got through to us,” well-known columnist Nilanjana Roy wrote in a blog on Saturday.

“Our words shrivelled in the face of what she’d been subjected to by the six men travelling on that bus, who spent an hour torturing and raping her, savagely beating up her male friend.”

Sonia Gandhi, the powerful leader of the ruling Congress party, directly addressed the protesters in a rare broadcast on state television, saying that as a mother and a woman she understood their grievances.

“Your voice has been heard,” Gandhi said. “It deepens our determination to battle the pervasive and the shameful social attitudes that allow men to rape and molest women with such impunity.”

The victim and her male friend were returning home from the cinema, media reports say, six men on their bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. Media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. Both were thrown from the bus. The male friend survived.

Absolute animals.  I hope they are found guilty and never freed.

A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 per cent between 2007 and 2011.

And that’s just reported ones.

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Tyson not coming

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:47 am by David Farrar

Kate Wilkinson has announced:

Mike Tyson’s visa has been cancelled by Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson today.

Ms Wilkinson says the original decision to grant a Special Direction to Mr Tyson was a finely balanced call and a letter of support from the Life Education Trust, that would have been a benefactor from the visit, was a significant factor in approving the application.

 “Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the Trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson’s visit.

 “Given that the Trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa to enter New Zealand for the Day of the Champions event.”

Ironically just this morning Tyson said:

Convicted rapist Mike Tyson has brushed off criticism from John Key, saying there is nothing the Prime Minister can do about his entry to New Zealand.

Key had earlier said:

 

Key today said Immigration officials also let in other people with similar convictions who were in New Zealand for short periods.

“It’s a marginal call and there are always issues that have to be reflected.”

A “fairly liberal” view was taken if the crime was a long time ago and there had been no further offending, he said.

“I don’t have anything personally against Mike Tyson. But I have something deeply personal against people who rape other people and commit crimes against women.”

Key said he turned down “numerous” people for New Year or Queens Birthday honours because they had convictions for violence against women.

“I will not allow them to have that honour. I don’t think that should be bestowed on someone. So it is not specific against Mike Tyson, I’m just not fond of what he’s done.”

Every year the honours list was checked by the police and while speeding tickets and historic drink-driving convictions were normally looked past, violence against  women was not, he said.

Tyson made it clear on television that he thinks he was framed for the rape conviction, which is rather different to someone who is remorseful for what they did.

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