Friday 15 December 2017

Carol Hunt: Rape victims need justice – not leniency for attackers

Even the most courageous would consider keeping quiet when so many rapists are walking free from courts.

Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

All little girls are taught not to talk to strangers. By their teenage years they know to speed up if they hear footsteps behind when walking home at night. Most women grow up with an ever-present fear of rape. Not just of the crime itself; but of the aftermath. Unlike victims of other crimes, the first question a victim of rape or sexual abuse must ask her/himself is: to tell, or not to tell?

Jill Meagher didn't get that choice. She was raped and murdered by Adrian Bayley in Melbourne last September. Naturally, her distraught family, friends and country are furious that Bayley, a violent serial rapist (in 23 years he was convicted of 20 rapes) was on both parole and bail when he assaulted and killed her. A complete and utter f**k-up by the Aussie authorities, is the general – and apparently correct – opinion. It wasn't like they weren't warned. Media sources have revealed that Bayley had "disclosed future plans for offences in an open [sex offenders'] treatment forum" and worse, that "a parole officer tipped off Bayley police were investigating him over the disappearance of Ms Meagher before his arrest".

Meanwhile, the media in India have revealed that a 21-year-old Irish charity worker, who was allegedly raped by a businessman earlier this month, was rushed to hospital after a suspected overdose. She has recovered – from the overdose at any rate, but who knows when or how she can recover from her sexual ordeal? Will she receive justice from a country which has an appalling record where attitudes to sexual violence are concerned? Should she just keep quiet and put it down to bad luck?

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