Queensland Attorney-General: Some Rapes “Minor,” “Technical”

Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine has defended the common practice of letting rapists out on the street with no jail time at all by saying that some rapes just aren’t all that serious.

New figures showed 23 out of 172 people sentenced over rape or attempted rape during the past financial year avoided prison time.

Mr Shine defended the court system and said there were different levels of rapes.

“You have to look at the various circumstance of each case,” Mr Shine told ABC Radio.

“Some rapes can be of minor effect on the victim. Some circumstances can be of minor, some can be of major, damage to the victim. They do vary in intensity from time to time.

“For example, a digital rape is a technical rape but that is far less serious than an aggravated form of rape.”

His comments sparked outrage among talkback callers and victims of sexual crime support groups.

You know, I’m almost almost thrilled that someone non-feminist has actually acknowledged that my rapes were in fact, you know, rape.  That is, until in the same breath it’s referred to as mere “technical rape” that does not deserve real punishment, even when a conviction is obtained.

Thank you, Mr. Shine, for letting me and countless other women know that our rapes are so “minor” as to be almost insignificant.  If only I’d been so properly informed, I could have stopped being traumatized a long time ago.  After all, who gets so upset over mere technicalities?

The problem is that this attitude is far too prevalent.  I’ve seen and suffered it first hand. We’re not looking at a fluke, or a single bad egg.  We’re looking at one huge system of rape apologism and misogynist excuses.  And with this guy literally being in charge of criminal prosecutions in the state, to say this is a “system” can’t be even remotely construed as exaggeration.

And the question here is, who decides what is “minor,” what is “technical”?  Who decides whether a victim is traumatized enough to warrant proper sentencing for the rapist, and who is to say that the next victim of that same rapist let back out on the street will not be more deeply affected?  What kind of male entitlement does Shine have to feel to think that he has the right interpret women’s experiences in this way?  Would this only be “technical,” Mr. Shine?  Is this why a gang rape of a 10-year-old girl in your state was not met with justice?  Why does a woman (or girl) have to fall completely to pieces before a grave violation of her body and autonomy is taken with any sense of seriousness?

The Premier of the state, Anna Bligh, has called out Shine on his bullshit, and he has since apologized for his statements.  But unfortunately — and it’s important we don’t overlook this —  his comments were much more than “insensitive.”  They’re deeply triggering, for a start.  And they’re also highly indicative of how women and rapists are being treated by the legal system.  Sadly, it’s not a phenomenon restricted only to Queensland.

h/t Lauredhel’s Twitter feed

0 thoughts on “Queensland Attorney-General: Some Rapes “Minor,” “Technical”

  1. Tokidoki

    Sorry, that false logic won’t work, my rapist already tried to use that defense to prove I was “overreacting.” My trauma and my experience are not to be measured by anyone else. And why should rape be measured by how “messed up” (read: damaged goods theory) the victim is from the assault? Different women react differently and that is OK. That’s like saying I shouldn’t be charged with attempted murder for shooting someone because I missed and hit them in the leg, so it wasn’t lethal. (If my comparisons off you can point it out.)

    This kind of privileged crap spewed from the “justice” system is why I’m going into law. It’s inexcusable that a public official can make these comments.

    Reply
    1. Cara Post author

      This kind of privileged crap spewed from the “justice” system is why I’m going into law.

      Good! The legal system definitely needs more people with sense.

      Reply
  2. Kristen

    Interesting…let’s see how this applies to other crimes…

    I only “technically” robbed a bank. (I only sole the singles!)

    I only “technically” ran over a pedestrian. (It was a teeny, tiny pedestrian.)

    I only “technically” killed that guy. (He’s only mostly dead….to steal a phrase.)

    Reply
  3. Dee

    Queensland in the last year has become well known for the insanity that surrounds any kind of sexual assaults, this commentary by Shine is just the one of the many.

    As you pointed out Cara, there was the 10 year old gang rape victim who was classified as ‘consenting’ to the rape. Legally no one under the age of 16 can consent. This was also not the first time she was raped, this was the 2nd time the legal system let her down.

    A convicted pedophile escaped jail on a technicality, decided to sue for being run out of town in ’05 because of emotional trauma. I can’t believe he was even allowed to file.

    Just yesterday brother gang rapists in NSW had their sentences reduced. What, because they deserve a break? They didn’t care about the girl they put into hospital did they? What she had to suffer at their hands, then at the hands of their defence attorney.

    An 11 year old boy in Canberra held a 9 year old at knife point in a park earlier this year, he sexually assaulted her and was charged. The judge didn’t find him guilty because he doesn’t think an 11 year old is capable of assault, it apparently was innocent harmless play.

    I know these are cases that are in Australia, but they are indicative of what is happening world wide. Our legal systems are so caught up in the morality of the 7th century where women are property, and the pseudo-Christian BS that women are manipulative and they lure men off the ‘right’ track by our feminine wiles that justice cannot prevaile. We need to clean out this ignorant fools, both men and women, in order to try and create justice for victims, not criminals.

    When it comes to rape, it is not only the common “she asked for it” comments that annoy me, it’s the complete disregard and laughter that is triggered whenever a man comes forward as a victim of rape. But what man could be raped? If you are raped by a man and you report it you are considered gay, and then that crime doesn’t count… and men can’t get raped by women, after all they’ll enjoy it.

    Sexual assault, of any kind, seems to mean fuck all in the grand scheme of things. After all the criminal ‘changes’ and learns their lesson – until they do it again. The victim, they apparently asked for it.

    Reply
  4. James

    “Rape is the only crime where the victim is presumed to deserve it until proven otherwise.”

    No, rape is the only crime where the victim is presumed to have *wanted* the act, until proven otherwise.

    This is inherent in the nature of the crime. No one thinks that a purse-snatching was probably desired by the victim. Yet most sexual activity each day is consensual.

    In other words, an essential element of the crime of rape is that the sexual activity was unwilling (or, put differently, that it was an act of violence, not sex). This is absolutely necessary to distinguish sex and rape, isn’t it?

    Of course, many people get tripped up over the implications of this. I guess it’s too hard for them to think through the differences between willing sex and forcible sex, which is where you get craziness like victims “asking for it” or “deserving it,” or this nonsense in Queensland.

    Reply
  5. SunlessNick

    Of course, many people get tripped up over the implications of this.

    I won’t speak for Australia or America, but for Britain, I stand by “deserved” – a rape victim will be blamed not just by people who don’t believe her, but also by people who do – ie, people who understand that she didn’t want it, but blame her anyway. And the only way that could be is to presume that she deserved it.

    Reply
  6. Anna

    Agreeing wholeheartedly with Nick – here it’s very much that ‘well, yes, of course it was rape.. but she WAS drinking/wearing ‘provocative’ clothing/flirting (i.e. asking for it)’

    Reply
  7. James

    … for Britain, I stand by “deserved” – a rape victim will be blamed …

    Oh, I agree, Nick, if you’re talking about how a lot of people see rape, as opposed to how the crime is defined by the legal system. That’s precisely what I meant by saying that “many people get tripped up” over the nature of this crime.

    This *is* a trickier crime for most people to handle than, say, burglary. No one wants to be burgled, and few consensual activities look like burglary. When there’s unambiguous evidence of burglary, there’s little chance that the victim isn’t being truthful about the consensual nature of the act or, for instance, hiding who really committed the crime against her. However, the moment we define an everyday act like sex as a dreadful crime when it’s unwanted, people’s minds start rushing in all directions, thinking about intent, desire, ambiguity, and on and on.

    Of course, these attitudes partly date back to a time when rape was handled very differently by the law. A woman who was raped was soiled and worthless, either to her husband or father. As a result, she was expected to preserve her virtue with modesty at all costs, and to fight her assailant as if her life depended on it. Anything less was considered proof that a man was being unjustly accused, and I don’t think we’ve entirely gotten away from that.

    Reply
    1. Cara Post author

      When there’s unambiguous evidence of burglary, there’s little chance that the victim isn’t being truthful about the consensual nature of the act or, for instance, hiding who really committed the crime against her.

      Um, I hope you’re not suggesting that there is a difference regarding rape and that victims readily lie. The difference is in the perception. People think burglary victims have no reason to lie; they also think, for some reason, that rape victims do. I mean, you can make up the same bullshit about burglaries. Maybe he got drunk and broke his window and didn’t want to be held responsible. Etc.

      However, the moment we define an everyday act like sex as a dreadful crime when it’s unwanted, people’s minds start rushing in all directions, thinking about intent, desire, ambiguity, and on and on.

      People give things to each other all the time. And sometimes, people take them. Only one is illegal, and with very good reason. For some reason, people generally do not even connect the consensual act of giving someone an object, and someone nonconsensually taking it. Yet most people do connect the consensual act of sex with the nonconsensual act of forcing it. There is no good reason for this.

      Reply
  8. James

    I hope you’re not suggesting that there is a difference regarding rape and that victims readily lie.

    Certainly not! Victims rarely, but occasionally, lie about all sorts of crimes. I was simply saying that if it’s clear that the act of burglary has taken place, there’s little additional room to question what happened. With rape, there’s the additional element of consent in the definition of the crime. It’s a different factual issue which can come into play, and that can complicate matters.

    The difference is in the perception. People think burglary victims have no reason to lie; they also think, for some reason, that rape victims do.

    I think the difference is more than merely perception. For a burglary victim to be lying, there has to be a setup of a crime, as well as a motive for faking the crime. To deliberately frame someone, for instance, or to collect insurance money. For a rape victim to be lying, often there’s no need for the setup, because ordinary sex can serve that role, and there’s the additional element of consent.

    For instance, there may be consensual sex, and only the lack of consent is being faked. This happens sometimes, of course, especially by women who are under tremendous social, parental or spousal pressure not to admit that they are having consensual sex at all, or having sex with a particular person.

    Or there may be a rape, but the identity of the perpetrator is the subject of the deception. There are sometimes women, as I’m sure we’re all aware, who are desperate to hide the real identity of their assailant–for instance, rape by a father, brother, or uncle, or by one’s own husband or boyfriend, or by friend’s boyfriend, or by a trusted authority figure.

    I think the common theme here is that our society still subjects women to terrible pressure not to behave as they wish, or to feel guilt and shame for revealing terrible crimes committed against them.

    Yet most people do connect the consensual act of sex with the nonconsensual act of forcing it. There is no good reason for this.

    I think there may be a couple of good reasons for this, actually.

    For one thing, in the judicial system there is, in practice, rarely any similarity between people giving or loaning possessions, and theft. Hardly ever is a defendant able to raise a genuine doubt in a jury’s mind that he was merely given or loaned what he is accused of stealing. Either the two don’t know each other, or there’s violence or forced entry, or it’s not something that’s normally given or loaned, etc.

    With rape, however, this is often the heart of criminal cases. It’s quite common that the defendant acknowledges having sex with the victim, and the only issue is consent. While the act of sex may not look much like the act of rape if you’re there, for a jury the evidence can be quite ambiguous. In the worst case, of course, the woman says she didn’t consent, and the man did. This happens frequently, with no evidence to prove the matter one way or the other.

    For another thing, I think most people believe that situations of gift or loan rarely shade into theft. Two people are rarely contemplating a gift or loan, and negotiations break down, and someone steals. It happens, but it’s not a common pattern. Especially not in ways that aren’t obvious and leave evidence, like hitting someone over the head or breaking into their home later.

    We all know, however, that sexual encounters, or other intimate situations, can shade into rape. A woman may be a willing participant in sexual activity, but with no intention of having intercourse. Or she may be considering it, but in the end decides against it. She may be on a date, or in bed with a boyfriend or husband, when the rape occurs.

    It used to be, of course, that these situations were usually not even considered rape. Today, however, I feel comfortable that everyone reading these words agrees that they are unambiguously rape, and yet the woman may have no hint of danger until suddenly the encounter takes a very unexpected turn.

    Reply

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