I have been thinking further on the name suppression issue. I understand that the legislation applies automatic name suppression to alleged sexual offenders in cases where a minor is involved, or where the relationship with the accused means that the victim can be identified (or when you are really really famous). Why?
Why does being the victim of a sexual attack mean that an individual shouldn’t be identified? If the attack had been of a physical nature would name suppression be put in place? And, just to exaggerate the point further, is the honour killing of rape victims by relatives in some countries (to cover up the attack and the way it tarnishes the family) just a more brutal version of a similar moral instrument in our society.
And, no, I’m not suggesting that we specifically name victims… just that using possible victim identification as the reason for perpetrator name suppression is… well… trite.
It seems that we as a society (and through our legislation) have applied a moral code. We have decided that to be sexually abused or attacked means to be broken in a way that is unsuitable for others to have knowledge of. As a society we have decided that people who are sexually abused might have their reputations besmirched by being a victim of such an attack. Of course to move away from that would mean allowing victims (or an adult in their place) to have more say as to whether perpetrators (and potentially they as victims) are named.
Again, I ask you if it would be different if a well-known man had allegedly physically beaten his step-daughter? Would he require the same sort of name suppression?
Name suppression (of the alleged or convicted perpetrator) has the possibility of actually putting sexual abuse victims in more of a box, to isolate them further and to effectively make it clear that we as a society don’t want to talk about that sort of thing.
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for name suppression… more challenging the reasons behind it being a necessary or automatic measure in some cases.
I’d also like to place some faith in the justice system so do think it is important that a person has the potential for a level playing field before they go through trial to be found guilty or otherwise.