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.

Tags:

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.

Tags:

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.

 

Tags:

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.

Tags: , , , ,

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.
Tags: , ,

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.

Tags: , ,

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.

Tags:

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.

Tags: , ,

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.

Tags: ,

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.

 

Tags: ,

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.

Tags: ,

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.

Tags: , ,

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.

Tags: , ,

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.

Tags: ,

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.

Tags: ,

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.

Tags: , , , ,

A dinosaur Reublican

August 21st, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

There are times when I wonder that if I lived in the US, would I be able to be in the Republican Party, when they have candidates such as Todd Akin standing for the Senate.

I could never be a Democrat. The only left-wing party I think I could ever join would be the right faction of the NSW Labor Party :-)

I guess I could be a US Libertarian Party member, but I actually believe in achieving things. Anyway it is all academic, as I am happy here in NZ.

Fox News reports:Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin resisted calls to withdraw from the race Monday over his controversial comments on rape, despite mounting pressure from GOP leaders who roundly condemned his remarks and threatened to cut off funding. 

Up until this he was 9% ahead of the incumbent Democrat.

Akin, a six-term GOP congressman, is challenging Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill for her seat. His chances looked fairly sunny — up until he told an interviewer that a woman’s body can typically prevent pregnancy during a “legitimate rape,” as he argued against allowing abortions in cases of rape, claiming such pregnancies are uncommon in the first place. 

“It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” 

How can an experienced politician, let alone a half decent human being, say something like that?

He basically just told every rape victim who got pregnant that their rape wasn’t real rape. Jesus Christ.

Sadly a fair proportion of rape victims do get pregnant to their rapist, and have the anguishing decision about what to then do.

One can have a legitimate debate on the legality of abortion, but you have to be a particular type of insensitive moron to make comments like Akin did.

Good to see the GOP dumping on him from a huge height. However the damage is done.

Tags: , , ,

Sexual violence statistics

May 14th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZb reports:

Advocates are questioning just how many horrific figures they need to show the Government before sexual violence is taken seriously.

The National Network of Ending Sexual Violence Together has reiterated just how major a social problem it is in this country, as Rape Awareness Week has come to a close.

It says approximately one in four girls and one in eight boys is likely to experience it before the age of 16.

This stat made suspicious, as “sexual violence” occurring to one in eight boys under 16 and one in four girls seemed rather high. As far as I can tell this stat comes from the Youth 2000 survey of 2,000 or so secondary school students.

The term “sexual violence” is rather extreme, as the question asked in the survey was “Have you ever been touched in a sexual way or made to do sexual things that you didn’t want to do?”.  Slightly unfortunately the lack of commas means it could be interpreted as “touched in a sexual way” or “made to do sexual things that you didn’t want to do” rather than “touched in a sexual way that you didn’t want to do”.

A better question would have been “Have you ever been touched in a sexual way that you didn’t want, or made to do sexual things that you didn’t want to do”.

Even assuming everyone understood the question, the term sexual violence is a bit extreme. The definition used covers a one off kiss, where the recipient then tells the other party they are not interested, and nothing further happens. It is certainly unwelcome sexual contact, and that would have been the better term to use, rather than a term which suggests rape or sexual assault.

Also worth noting that the claim of one in four and one in eight by before 16 is incorrect. They are the stats for 17 year olds, not 15 year olds who are a few percent lower.

The survey asks the teens about their reaction to the unwanted sexual contact. 62% of girls and 82% of boys said it was “not bad” or only “a little bad”. Please don’t think this is suggesting that unwanted sexual contact is a good thing – of course it is not. But when we see blunt statistics claiming that 25% of girls and 13% of boys have sexual violence before they are 16, it is useful to understand what the actual survey found.

At the more serious end of the scale, 12% of female students and 3% of male students said the first time they had sex, it was unwanted. That is still far too high a prevalence. 4% of male students and 1% of male students said they had made someone else do something sexually they did not want to. If the survey responses are honest, that suggests in around two thirds of unwanted sexual encounters, the other party did not know it was unwanted (or did know, and isn’t reporting it in this survey – which is likely to explain some of the difference).

Just been searching further, and it seems there was a repeat of the 2000 survey in 2007, and the prevalence rates of unwanted sexual contact dropped to 20% for female students and 5% for male students. So the  National Network of Ending Sexual Violence Together is using statistics that are no longer the latest. This does not help their credibility. They used old out of date stats, they got the ages wrong and they mislabeled responses as sexual violence instead of unwanted sexual contact.

The group’s chair Kim McGregor says 99 percent of offenders are not held to account because of under-reporting and low conviction rates.

This stat is just as dodgy. Unless McGregor is suggesting every 14 year old who kisses someone and gets told to stop (and stops) should be charged and convicted.

I blogged in 2009 some very useful research from MWA on the attrition rate for sexual violation complaints. Only 13% end in a conviction, but the major attrition factors are 34% are not considered valid offences, 11% no suspect is identified, 24% are not prosecuted and 18% have not guilty verdicts or the charges are withdrawn. If someone is found not guilty, I don’t think one can use this as saying offenders are not held to account unless you believe every person accused is in fact guilty.

Any level of sexual violence in New Zealand is unacceptable, and sexual violence involving teenagers is even worse. The motives of  National Network of Ending Sexual Violence Together are highly commendable, but they do their cause harm, not help, by using incorrect outdated statistics, and mislabeling them, in an attempt to generate headlines. The actual true levels of sexual violence are bad enough, that they do not need exaggerating.

Tags: ,

Rape, Blame and Safety

May 27th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

National backbencher Paul Quinn has apologised for remarking “there is a real issue with young ladies getting drunk” during a debate about rape.

The list MP defended his comments by saying he misunderstood the question because of background noise.

And he was forced to issue an apology on Twitter after a storm of negative feedback on the micro-blogging network.

He posted: “Sorry I did not hear what she had said. So my answer was totally out of context and I know that short skirts are not provocation.”

It is very very noisy in the pub at Backbenches.  Adam Bennett in the NZ Herald reports:

Greens co-leader Russel Norman, who was sitting next to Mr Quinn, said the National MP had turned to him and told him he had been unable to hear the presentation properly.

“He seemed genuine,” he said

I think Russel’s comments make it very clear that Paul did not hear the context to the question.

In terms of the substance, I always find it useful to differenitiate between blame and safety. In terms of blame, the victim is never to blame for being raped. Nothing justifies rape = ever.

The Lady Garden blogs:

For the record, I could give a dude a blowjob in a bar bathroom, and if he then forced himself on me, it wouldn’t be my fault. Get it?

I agree entirely.

To use a well known example, if Mike Tyson invites you back to his hotel room at 2 am, and then has sex with you against his will, you are not to blame, he is. And in this case he was convicted of rape as he should have been.

However if a female friend of mine told me that Mike Tyson has asked her back to his hotel room at 2 am, my advice would be not to go – or at least not to go alone, as you might not be safe.

Likewise if you get invited to a party at the Mongrel Mob fortress, again my advice would be not to go. If you did go, and got raped, it would be entirely the responsibility of the Mongrel Mob rapists, but as we do not live in a perfect world, reducing risk is often a sensible thing to do.

This is not just about rape. If I was wearing a $20,000 Rolex and had $50,000 of cash on me, and attended said Mongrel Mob party, then there is an increased risk I’ll get beaten up and robbed. I would be the victim, and 100% not to blame. The muggers would be to blame. However I’d probably conclude not to attend any more Mongrel Mob parties with Rolexes.

It is NEVER a rape-victim’s fault that they were attacked. The responsibility lies with the criminal, and the criminal alone. Clothes, behaviour, what they’ve had to drink, their sexual past, proclivities, and promises are no fucking excuse, and don’t come into it at all.

I agree. They are no excuse, and all the blame lies with the criminal. It is atrocious that some men can’t accept this, and commit rape. It is a hideous crime.

However, and I say this with genuine concern, one does have to accept we don’t live in a perfect crime free world. And it is worth taking steps to minimise the probability of crime. No I don’t mean dressing like nuns and being a teetotaller. I do mean however being aware that if you get pissed, you may not be as able to prevent a crime occuring. So if you are getting pissed, maybe make sure you have a more sober friend with you.

Whn going home after a night out, consider the relative dangers of walking home vis a taxi. There are some suburbs that would not be particularly safe for either men or women to be going through at 3 am. if you get mugged or raped, of course you are not to blame because you took a short cut through (for example) Cannons Creek. But knowing we do not live in a crime free society, it might be a good idea not to do so.

It would be nice if we could leave our front doors unlocked and the car keys in our cars, without them being stolen. And if they are stolen, the thief is to blame. But generally I wouldn’t recommend people leave their car keys in their ignition.

Now again, I am in no way saying that women should not go out, should not drink alcohol, should not wear what they like, just to minimise the chance of rape.  All I’m trying to say is there are some evil bastards out there, and to use some common sense when out on the town – to look after each other.

Tags: , ,

Dominique Strauss-Kahn

May 16th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

AP reports:

The leader of the International Monetary Fund, a possible candidate for president of France, was pulled from an airplane moments before he was to fly to Paris and is being questioned by police in connection with the sexual assault of a hotel maid.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was taken off the Air France flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport by officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and turned over to police Saturday afternoon, said Paul J. Browne, New York Police Department spokesman.

He was being questioned by the NYPD special victims office. Strauss-Kahn had retained an attorney and was not making statements to the police, Browne said. No charges have yet been filed.

The 32-year-old woman told authorities that she entered Strauss-Kahn’s room at the Sofitel near Manhattan’s Times Square at about 1pm Eastern (1600 GMT) Saturday and he emerged from the bedroom naked, threw her down and attacked her, Browne said.

She told authorities that he tried to force her to perform oral sex on him. She somehow broke free and escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, authorities said. They called police.

This will be one of the trials of the decade, if the allegations are correct.

He was not just a possible candidate for President of France, but I would say the clear favourite to becomes the 34th President of the Republic.

Incidentially he was accused of attempted rape in 2002 by the then 23 year old Tristane Banon.

Tags: ,

The Wikileaks rape charges

August 24th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Many will have seen the story about the Swedish Police announcing rape charges had been filed against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The charges have now been dropped.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. In fact I like to mock people who think Bush planned 9/11 etc.

But I have to say that when I heard of the rape charges against Assange, my first reaction was to wonder “How the hell did the NSA manage to arrange that?”

Tags: , , ,

Reaction to rape

April 22nd, 2010 at 7:51 pm by The Wanderer

I came accross a new website here the other day, called Kuwait Exposed , where people can anonymously post their “confessions”. While most of the posts are pretty lame and rather whiny, I was disgusted to read a confession of rape .  I’m inclined to believe it as genuine following the poster’s further comment in response to some of the other comments (where he was stupid enough to use his own name – not that that’ll assist in any legal action, which is highly unlikely to eventuate in any case).

It’s surprisingly easy enough to live in a place like this and let the dichotomy of an expat vs Kuwaiti view on the world pass you by, and many people do, despite experiencing the differences on a daily basis.

What struck me most about this “confession” was the reaction in the comments. This creature says he loves this poor girl, whom he has raped.  He seems to realise on some level that what he has done is wrong, but he still sees her as the future wife and mother of his children.

And many of the commenters seem to as well! For example:

” Telling ur mother idf the best thing to do even taking her with u wen u are going to Apologize, the virginity thing could be fixed only if she have an adult helping her. Then if u truly wanna show her that u love her ask ur mam to call hers and engage her to u !” [sic]

“If you really love her and want to make it up, there is a way you could do it. if I were in your place, I would go and ask for her hand in marriage.”

Some don’t even see a need to confess: “what’s left is between you and God”

The comments about the need/ability to “fix” a loss of virginity have got to stop you in your tracks also.

Compare that to comments from those with Western names.

Tags: , , ,

New sentencing guidelines for rape

April 8th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Court of Appeal released last week their decision in R v AM. The individual decision about MA is not of as much interest as the fact the Court has used the case to quite radically change the way courts assess what term of imprisonment should apply.

Rape has a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and in 1994 the Court of Appeal in R v A ruled that the starting point was 8 years, and there was a large number of factors which could push that up or down.

The result of R v A is that almost all sentences tended to cluster around the starting point, and relatively few got near the maximum, or at the other end, got near the minimum. It also led to some lack of consistency.

In R v AM, the Court of Appeal has devised for bands of offending for rape, and three for unlawful sexual connection. They are:

  1. Rape 1 – 6 to 8 years
  2. Rape 2 – 7 – 13 years
  3. Rape 3- 12 – 18 years
  4. Rape 4 – 16 – 20 years

And

  1. USC 1 – 2 to 5 years
  2. USC 2 – 4 to 10 years
  3. USC 3 – 9 to 18 years

Before I detail what qualifies for each band, I have to say I think the decision is a significant improvement for sentencing. It has bee frustrating that no matter how vile the crime, very few people ever get close to the maximum sentence. This should result in the very worst rapes getting sentences close to the 20 year maximum.

The decision gives a lot of examples of how existing cases would fit into each band, and whether they would be at the lower or upper ends. It is a very detailed sentencing guide. To some degree it shows why there is no need to have a Sentencing Council, as legislated by the last Government. The Court of Appeal looks to be filling that niche quite nicely.

The description of the activity which falls in each band is summarised here:

  1. Rape Band 1 (6 to 8 yrs) – offending at the lower end of the spectrum where there are no aggravating factors, no serious violence, no abduction, the victim is not very young or very old.
  2. Rape Band 2 (7 to 13 yrs) – involves moderate violence, pre-meditation, a rape involving more than one offender, or an especially vulnerable victim
  3. Rape Band 3 (12 to 18 yrs) – offending with serious additional violence, wit multiple (three or more) aggravating factors. For particularly cruel, callous or violent rapes.
  4. Rape Band 4 (16 to 20 yrs) – for multiple offending over considerable periods of time, gang or pack rape.

These guidelines are binding on all lower courts from the 31st of March. It will be interesting to see how it impacts sentencing. The Court has said it does not expect the average term of imprisonment to increase (it has already increased from 7 yrs 3 mths in 1996 to 8 yrs 3 mths) but that there will be a greater variety of sentences – more at the top end, and more at the lower end.

It is worth noting that the above focuses on the initial sentence for the offending. Courts also then take into account the circumstances of the offender. Also if an offender pleads guilty their setence is normally reduced by 10% to 33% depending on how early in the process they plead guilty.

The case judgement, from a legal point of view, is a very interesting one. On an emotional front, it was pretty gruesome reading the summarised details of around 52 rape and unlawfu sexual connection cases. I can only imagine what the trauma must have been like for the victims.

Tags: , ,

Law changes for sex cases

October 26th, 2009 at 8:22 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial says:

According to retired Court of Appeal Court judge Justice Ted Thomas, the present trial system is “brutalising and distressing” for complainants in sex cases. For that reason, it is unsurprising that many victims of rape are deterred from coming forward. Ways must be found to reverse that and to act on a Ministry of Women’s Affairs study that concluded only 13 per cent of sexual violation cases reported to police ended in conviction.

I agree. But I also note that already the NZ Herald is using the wrong stat from the MWA study. That 13% includes complaints found to be false, and I am sure the Herald is not wanting to imply that there should be more convictions based on false complaints. The figure the Herald should be citing is that only 20% of “valid” complaints led to a conviction.

A core recommendation would allow an accused’s past sex convictions and the complainant’s past complaints to be disclosed. This would address the considerable public disquiet following the acquittals three years ago of former policemen Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum and Clint Rickards on sex charges in the Louise Nicholas case. After the trial, it was revealed that Shipton and Schollum were already in prison after being found guilty in 2005 of the pack rape of a young woman at Mt Maunganui in 1989 – information that could not be disclosed to the jury previously.

Other taskforce proposals include giving judges the ability to direct juries that they may draw an “adverse inference” if an accused opts to stay silent, and to also direct that “beyond reasonable doubt” does not mean “no doubt” the accused is guilty.

In essence three major changes are proposed

  1. Allowing details of previous convictions
  2. Allowing a jury to draw an adverse inference from an accused staying silent, and presumably not testifying
  3. Stressing that reasonable doubt does not mean no doubt

There are reasonable arguments for and against such changes. My position though is that any such changes must apply to all criminal cases, not just sex cases. Why would you give more (or less) rights to those accused of murder, kidnapping, grievous assault, armed robbery etc etc.

It would be seriously unjust that if someone is accused of killing someone they have the right to remain silent, but if they are accused of rape, they lose the right to remain silent (without adverse inferences).

Also why would you have a system which allowed a jury to know someone accused of rape had a previous rape conviction, but not that someone accused of armed robbery had previous convictions for armed robbery?

Tags: , ,

Sexual Assaults

October 3rd, 2009 at 11:01 am by David Farrar

I’ve finally discovered something useful done by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. They have published a study into why so few sexual assault complaints result in convictions, and it is full of interesting stats. The study is of 1,955 police files relating to sexual assaults upon an adult from July 2005 to Dec 2007.

68% of the files involved rape, 22% unlawful sexual connection, 7% attempted sexual violation and 3% other.

sexualassaultstats

So one third of complaints are not about a valid offence. We learn that 8% were classified as false complaints, so presumably the other 26% were complaints that were not deemed to involve illegal behaviour.

Of the remaining 66% of valid offences, one sixth did not have a suspect identified which brings it down to 55%. A surprisingly high 44% of cases with an identified suspect are not prosecuted meaning 31% of all complaints result in prosecution. And of those 42% resulted in a conviction.

This means overall only 13% of complaints lead to a conviction. However the more useful figure is that 20% of “valid” complaints lead to a conviction.

So let us first look at cases not deemed valid.

‘False complaints’ were defined as cases in which the complainant was charged or warned for making a false complaint. In ‘false complaint’ cases for which further information was noted in the summary data set, the two most common file notes were that the complainant had admitted the allegation was false and that the evidence did not support the complaint. The victim had an intellectual disability or a psychiatric condition or had made previous allegations in around a third of cases.

If 8% of 1,955 cases were “false” that is 156 cases.

So what about the other cases deemed not valid:

The ‘no offence’ category accounted for 34 percent of recorded cases (including the 8 percent designated ‘false complaints’), which was lower than the 45 percent ‘no offence’ rate found in a 1981 New Zealand study (Stace, 1983).

So the category has dropped in frequency.

At least one in five cases did not proceed due to victim withdrawal. That is, the investigating officer recorded that the victim did not want to proceed with the investigation or was uncooperative or could not be contacted. Withdrawn cases were more likely than other cases to involve an offender who was an ex-partner or boyfriend. The police files noted a variety of reasons for a victim not wanting to proceed, including that the victim wanted the offender warned or trespassed but not prosecuted; someone else reported the incident or the victim was pressured to report; the victim had limited recall of the incident; the victim wanted to report the incident or seek advice but take no further action; or the victim did not feel able to proceed, was not ready to proceed or felt threatened.

It is a shame so many victims withdraw, but I can understand why. Now why do one sixth of valid cases not have an identified suspect?

The most common factors in cases with no identified suspect were that the victim withdrew from the process, there was insufficient evidence to identify a suspect who was a stranger to the victim, or the victim had limited recall due to intoxication.

So why were there no charges in 44% of cases with an identified suspect?

The prosecution rate (percentage of cases with charges laid) was 31 percent based on all recorded cases or 46 percent if ‘no offence’ cases were excluded from the base. The prosecution rate for cases involving multiple offences was much higher than for single-offence cases and thus the prosecution rate based on recorded offences (49 percent) was higher than the prosecution rate for cases (31 percent).

Cases in which a known suspect was not charged tended to involve either victim withdrawal or insufficient and/or conflicting evidence.

What is interesting is that victim withdrawal is a common factor at almost every stage. It is a major factor in cases not being deemed valid, in no suspect being identified and in no prosecution being undertaken.

I wonder what the attrition rate at each stage would be, if there was no victim withdrawal? That would be a useful piece of data.

It seems clear that the most significant way to increase the prosecution rate of sexual assaults, would be to have fewer victims withdraw. But that is easier said that done. Many victims can have very valid reasons for not wanting the trauma of a court case.

Some interesting other factors:

  • Rape cases had higher attrition rates at almost every stage of the justice process, compared with other offences.
  • The 18 percent of cases that involved more than one offence were much more likely to proceed through all stages and result in a conviction than cases involving a single offence.
  • The majority of offenders were previously known to the victim, with stranger assaults accounting for just 16 percent of cases and offenders just met (within the last 24 hours) accounting for a further 15 percent of cases.
  • A third of cases involved victims and offenders with intimate relationships
  • Attacks by a stranger were more often associated with ‘false complaints’
  • However, if prosecuted, stranger attacks were much more likely to result in a conviction, giving these cases a relatively high overall conviction rate. (this is logical, as it is harder for the defendant to claim consent if they were strangers)
  • Current partners and boyfriends had a high prosecution rate but a very low conviction rate for sexual violation (also no surprise as issues of consent much harder to determine)
  • Offenders who were family members had high prosecution and conviction rates relative to other offenders (and again this is logical as few family members ever have consensual sex)
  • Cases were more likely to be classified as ‘no offence’ if the victim was uncertain whether violation had occurred. The victim was uncertain in about one in seven cases, and this factor was strongly linked to alcohol or other drug use. (that is a disturbing stat)

They also list factors that do not affect attrition:

  • Region (except Akl City has lower level of no offence cases)
  • Victim Gender
  • Victim Ethnicity
  • Victim Origin
  • Victim Criminal History
  • Victim is a sex worker
  • Offender Gender
  • Offender Age
  • Offender Ethnicity
  • Offender Origin
  • Incident Timing

This is actually very pleasing. It would be a concern if the demographics of either the victim or offender caused a lower or higher attrition rate in terms of prosecution or conviction.

Also some interesting stats on the 31% of cases that had charges laid:

  • 16% plead guilty
  • 30% had the case withdrawn or discharged
  • 52% went to trial
  • Of those that went to trial 50.5% were acquitted and 49.5% found guilty

This is a really invaluable report, full of data. It has certainly given me a much better understanding of how the justice system deals with sexual assault complaints, and should be very useful for policy makers as they seek to improve the system.

Tags: , , ,