Again: all kinds of trigger warnings.
Via Lauredhel, more disturbing information has come to light about the Australian case of the ten-year-old girl who, according to a judge, “probably agreed to have sex” with the 6 youths and 3 legal adults who gang-raped her. Brace yourself.
The child – who had been living in a Cairns foster home before the department decided to return her to Aurukun, in Cape York – has been diagnosed as “mildly intellectually impaired” and suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, having been born to an alcohol-dependent mother. [. . .]
An eight-month investigation was conducted into the April 2006 multiple rape and submitted to the Department of Child Safety, resulting in one senior officer being sacked and two others suspended for 12 months on full pay – a situation that still exists.
A senior departmental official yesterday told The Australian that the child involved was sexually abused at age seven and, as a safety measure, was put with various foster families, eventually ending up in 2005 with a non-indigenous family in Cairns. But she was returned nine months later to Aurukun, where she was gang-raped by the nine males. [. . .]
The investigating committee also reported that the Child Safety officers took no remedial action when the girl threatened to commit suicide. [. . .]
The committee also found the child had first contracted syphilis in April 2002 when she was aged seven and was raped by five juveniles in Aurukun, receiving severe genital injuries.
I don’t even know what to say. The girl was gang-raped at the age of seven. She was then removed from her community, because it was believed that she would not be safe there. Child Protective Services then moved her back from her foster home because of concerns over the historical and social impact of Aboriginal children living with white parents. The government is now calling this “rubbish” and trying to blame the situation on some kind of racial prejudice against white people, though it’s never explained why the girl could not have been placed in foster care with Aboriginal parents or simply in a different Aboriginal community. [Note: I do not know enough to say one way or the other whether or not the girl should have been removed from the care of the white family. What I’m saying is that blaming the call to remove her doesn’t fly, because many other actions could have been taken that would have put her at less of a risk for danger.]
It gets a lot worse, though. It turns out that, though the judge is certainly to blame, she cannot bear all of the responsibility for the atrocity of this ruling. Why? Because the prosecutor in the case told her that the rape was “childish experimentation.” No. Not the defense attorney. The prosecutor. The one who is meant to act in the best interest of the ten-year-old, mentally disabled, previously sexually abused rape victim. He also called her and her rapists “naughty.”
Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine said late Tuesday the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would investigate the conduct of Steve Carter, the senior legal officer responsible for Cape York matters in the DPP’s Cairns chambers.
Court transcripts released Tuesday showed Mr Carter had described the 2006 incident as “childish experimentation” and consensual “in a general sense”. [. . .]
While the Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare declined to comment, her office released transcripts of the court case.
They revealed that during the case, Mr Carter described the incident – in which the girl contracted a sexually transmitted disease – as “consensual sex”.
“To the extent I can’t say it was consensual in the legal sense, but in the other – in the general sense, the non-legal sense – yes, it was,” Mr Carter told the court.
Mr Carter said the sex had been prearranged and the males had not forced themselves on the girl.
“… they’re very naughty for doing what they’re doing but it’s really, in this case, it was a form of childish experimentation, rather than one child being prevailed upon by another,” he said.
Mr Carter also told the court such incidents were not out of character in small, remote communities.
” … children, females, have got to be – deserve – the same protection under the law in an Aboriginal or an indigenous community as they do in any other community,” Mr Carter said.
“But sometimes things happen in a small community when children get together.”
The outrageous racism and misogyny in all of these statements infuriate and sting me to my very core. The prosecutor — again, the prosecutor — argued in court that the ten-year-old victim of rape was able to consent to sex with 9 different males, all significantly older than her. The judge was wrong, and there’s no excuse for her ruling, because any decent person can see through this bullshit. And yet, at the same time, we have a prosecutor here who told her to make a ruling that was not in the best interest of the victim. We have a prosecutor, in addition to a judge, who was saying that the ten-year-old mentally disabled girl could and did consent to group sex — “naughty” group sex.
Not only that, but in defense for his outrageous statements, Carter gives the “hey, this is just what those people do” argument. As I said yesterday, this is very much about the view that Aboriginal girls are sexually promiscuous. And we already know that females viewed as “promiscuous” are also viewed as “un-rapable.” Aboriginal men are also viewed as being sexually aggressive and ravenous to the point of being unable to control themselves. This is an insult to every Aboriginal person, every person of color and every reasonably-thinking person out there. It’s an insult to decency, to justice, and certainly the little girl who has been victimized at every turn, only to have her counsel say that “sometimes things happen.” This rape has nothing to do with the fact that the victim and perpetrators were Aboriginal and lived in an Aboriginal community. To suggest that it is racist beyond belief, and to do so as a prosecutor in a court of law should be considered criminal in itself.
At Hoyden About Town, a commenter makes the point that disabled women are routinely seen by authorities as sexually promiscuous and likely to lie about sexual assault — even though disabled women are at more of a risk for abuse. This girl had a lot going against her — her race, her gender, her class and her disability — and the ways in which all of this has been used to victimize and re-victimize her is utterly disgusting.
Further compounding the situation is the fact that 17, 18 and 26-year-old men cannot engage in “childish experimentation” with a ten-year-old girl. Twenty-six-year-olds, particularly those with a history of pedophilia, should not be considered to be engaged in “childish experimentation” at all. It’s not only clearly not what happened here, it’s just plain impossible. For fuck’s sake, this isn’t a bunch of kids sitting around playing “doctor.” What we have here is a doubly racist situation, the simultaneous belief that Aboriginal men are “childish” and sexually ravenous and therefore can’t be held responsible for their actions, coupled with the belief that a ten-year-old mentally disabled Aboriginal girl is sexually mature enough to make autonomous sexual decisions.
I . . . I just want to cry. And I don’t know how to say it any better or any more simply than this:
Hetty Johnston, founder of Bravehearts, said a judicial inquiry was needed.
“The prosecutor is there to defend the rights of the victims – that man is standing behind the wrong desk,” Ms Johnston told AAP.
In addition to the statement’s accuracy, it’s also an appropriate metaphor. It seems that all of countless people here who were supposed to protect this child were standing behind the wrong desk.