January 26, 2011

Child Abuse - what becomes the focus?

A few days ago I posted about a Judge who gave a "first strike" warning to a sex offender having found him guilty of sex with a minor. And, as I always do, I copied the post onto my website and Facebook account. It's the latter that receive most comments and debate. Probably because it's a little more instant and a little more private. However, it's some of those comments that made me think...  

Several people mentioned the "child" (by legal definition) was under age - 14 - and therefore, it was a clear cut case of what we call here in New Zealand "Carnal Knowledge" 
It's under NZ Law, "Section 134 of the Crimes Act 1961. Carries a ten year penalty." said JP
"Aaannnd it must 'kill' the cops after putting in some of the hard yards to get these wankknobs to court and they only get a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket. We have enuf rules/laws in this country - just bloody enforce them you judges." (JR)
A few other comments backed up the previous comments but there was one that stuck out. I won't go into detail too much because the person in question mentions her own personal experience. Suffice to say she was under-age and the man was over 20, and, for whatever reasons, she enjoyed the attention he gave her. 

The good thing about discussions like this with a group of like minded people is that, sometimes, they throw you a curve ball - such as that wee gem. Or, as in my case, they jolt your own memory back to the days when say, (ho hum) I was a sweet little 14 year-old. 

My first crush - and I call it that because I am older and wiser. Actually I am probably just more cynical and grumpy. In any event, his name was Phil. He was a friend of my new step-fathers. A hippy I think. Well, he had no fixed abode, no family I could remember, made stain glass things, and smoked dope. I'd call him a bum now but back then, on the farm where dashing young men were at an all time low for hormone raging teenage girls, he was it! We snuck walks around the farm and snogged behind the cowshed. Very romantic stuff. I don't know if it was all the attention I was getting or the adrenalin rush of getting caught that I liked most but to now say I may have been a victim to abuse? I dunno, it just doesn't sit well with me. 

As time went on, so too did the intensity of our "relationship," for want of a better word. We never actually did the deed, so to speak, and I'm not exactly sure what happened but one day, after school, he just wasn't there any more and I was never allowed to mention his name. Something went down. What, I just don't know. 

Like the person who commented on my Facebook, I liked this man's attention as well. Maybe the "kid" in that court case posting did too? So it made me wonder. Is child abuse only child abuse when the child doesn't like it? 

I thought about this for a while and the only thing I could come up with is - what a huge chunk of responsibility to land on a kid's shoulder - he or she must decide? Then I thought, gee, maybe that's why there are Laws in the first place - to make those decisions for people who, for one reason or another (age for one), are unable to make it themselves. 

Now that I am an old crusty grump, my point of view has changed. I have fallen back on the Law as a guide. I don't like the idea that child abuse becomes focused on the child. Did she like the attention? Did she coerce the situation? Was she flirty, dressed inappropriately, anything that would basically make an otherwise sane man just loose it? 

I put this back to the group discussion. 
I was drunk and very flirty... that's why "it" happened." 
Right there. Right in amongst those few words, you have the answer. The focus is on the child even in her own mind and for me, that just doesn't feel right. So what, she may have been drunk. She may have been flirty. Last I heard, it wasn't illegal for a 14 year-old to be like that. In fact, I am pretty sure it's quite normal behaviour - the flirty, wanting attention bit, that is. 

Surely, it's how the respondent acted that's questionable. 

Would we blame a three-year-old child for her father turning on her like some viable sex toy just because she sat on his lap and acted all coe and sweet-like? I don't think so. Is it normal for a child of that age to be like that? I would like to think so. Did we all just harden up when the same sort of 'thing' happened and that child is now 14? Is child abuse really just an age related thing or are we still, even now, pushing the blame and the guilt purely and unmercifully back on the victim - still? 

January 24, 2011

Burnt body death may have been honour killing

Police have named Ranjetta Sharma, 28, of South Auckland as the victim of a gruesome honour killing after her body was spotted burning by the side of Hangapipi Road, southwest of Huntly, about 10pm on Thursday. Interpol are working with authorities to track down her husband, who fled the country on Friday with their four-year-old son.

It's a no brainer really - the husband is not a suspect. He's the killer. Honour killings are something I fail to get my head around. I don't give a flying monkey that it's considered some other country's culture and who are we, in the so-called civilised West, to condemn another person's practice. It's not honourable. It's got to be one of the most cowardly patriarchal bullshit scams ever conceived. This isn't about religion. It's not even about a different culture. It's just plain senseless murder.

Honour killings are performed whenever a woman .... - right there, with that one word "woman", we already see a fucked up thought process created by men to control women. If this was all about honour and nothing else, then where are the male honour killings? In any event, killings such as these are generally performed when there is a dispute over a dowry or the woman has committed adultery. And the men who commit adultery, what happens to them? Nada! What a crock of shit. 

This woman was taken from her home on Thursday night, driven to a secluded bush area, and set alight. She was alive when an accelerant was poured over her naked body. Where the fuck is the honour in that? It's times like this that I wish "an eye for an eye" was the true form of justice. Set the spin-less husband on fire I say. 

Rest in peace Ranjetta. Rest in peace.

January 23, 2011

First strike warning after under age sex

What on earth happened to the 'carnal knowledge' law whereby, anyone (despite whether he lost his job and is living at his sisters and blah blah) caught having sex with a minor was illegal? Has the judicial system really gone completely mad? This is NOT a game of baseball we're playing here. Three strikes and you're out? 

What next? Batter up...? What a pathetic Judge! Makes you wonder, doesn't it -  what sentence would have been handed down if it were HIS daughter?

First strike warning after under age sex | Stuff.co.nz

Sitting on the fence

I never really understood that saying. I mean, I know what it means - not being for or against something - but you'd think being in a position like that would be a tad more comfortable sounding. I mean, why can't it be 'sitting on a deck chair'? It's not like standing in no man's land creates enemies, does it? In fact, you can swing from both sides of the camp, gather as much information as you want and if anyone asks you to decide where you stand, you just plop yourself back on that 'deck chair' and start dangling your legs. 

I don't like fence sitters and I don't like them for a jolly good reason. They are two faced and they need to be. It's the main criteria for fence sitting. That's not to say all people who plonk themselves in the middle of any debate are two faced. Some are just plain old cowards. Some just can't be bothered with issues and others, the more cynical kind, just have their own agenda - the latter, I think, fits most fence sitters.

It is those fence sitters who generally like to be the "Switzerland" of sensitive issues, I regard with the utmost disdain. They are the people who get a thrill out of being included yet shun any responsibility or angst about what to do about it. Actually, come to think of it, I think they're called 'drama queens' too. These are the ones, I think, people should be most wary about because the only 'thing' of interest to people like this, is gossip.

If you ever need to a "check" to see if your buddy or pal or support person has become one of those 'self-indulgent fence-sitters', then try this simple little test: Say nothing. Play your cards close to your chest and keep smiling. It will drive them nuts, so much so, they may even get off that deck chair and sit alongside you for a wee while, hoping their mere closeness will give you the illusion of 'togetherness' and you start divulging more. 

In the end, the silence will do one of two things: Drive them away or have them sit alongside you 100%. Knowledge is power. Remember that when you "tell" anyone anything. And if it's 100% support you need, 100% trust, then push them off the fence. Tell them to decide and if they can't - they, in effect, have. 

January 9, 2011

Family bonds - worth killing for?

Cris & Cru Kahui - unsolved murder
There is something fundamentally romantic about family members that "stick together." It must be - a majority of film screenwriters rely on the ripping a family apart and coming back together themes. As viewers, we relate to the isolation of an individual and then join in on that all important reunion when the outsider proudly walks back into the melee, shoulders squared, and mana to spare. Even the movie, last night, called Dream Girls, held that all important thread of family ties, the one thing that is, apparently, unbreakable. 

I revel in the notion of family support, love, and encouragement. Actually, to be really honest, I probably see the whole thing more as a fantasy than anything else because, if the truth be known, my family could do with a dose of loyalty - or even just a backbone. When the shit hits the fan, there are only two places to put yourself. For or against. There are no grey areas people, no middle of the road, diplomatic, bureaucratic, systematic, self-protecting centre positions. Full stop. 

And yet, that's where most people jostle to be - neither here nor there. 

There is nothing romantic about being surrounded by cowards. There's nothing even remotely 'family' about that, and in the case of the Kahui twins' murder, there is nothing even remotely legal about it. 

Don't even get me started on this hapu thing either - whereby some Maori families believe they are above and beyond the so-called white governing legalities of this country. Last I heard, slaughtering your own kids was still bloody well frowned upon even within Maori communities. It pisses me off to know the same people hiding behind hapu (anything State related) are also the ones seeking State funded legal advice to get them out of the shit and, as far as I am concerned, anyone, and I mean anyone, who knows something that could assist in solving a crime, any crime, AND does nothing ... is as guilty as the offender is. Simple. 

Just how many family members are behind this murder - all keeping quiet? And just how many even went out of their way, prior to the murders, to protect the parents now accused of the crime? Too many to list.They ought to be ashamed of themselves. There is no mana in protecting anyone who abuses/molests/kills our children. None whatsoever. 
"King [the twins' mother] could not account for the cell tower signal during Kahui's 2008 trial, but at the inquest last year said she had made a return trip to Mangere after being alerted that Wenzel, her sister's boss, had spotted them in a company vehicle and ordered them to go home and change cars." Police push to end Kahui deadlock | Stuff.co.nz
The twins' mother had an alibi for that evening - apparently. She wasn't even at home. But according to her cell phone records, she was in the area. Oh don't worry, just get your "Maori Life Coach" to cover up for you. Shame he forgot that it was his own cell phone, warning her to switch cars, that tipped Police off in the first place. Dumb ass. 

Still, it's not enough to convict. The murder of these two little boys remains one of New Zealand's unsolved crimes. Yeah right. It doesn't mean this lot is innocent. I just means that hapu is really tapu - an evil cover up

My views on family loyalty has changed. To me, I expect more from my family than I would from a mere acquaintance.That also means being more truthful, more moral, more decent - more honest. Otherwise, what is the point of calling yourself a "family"? You ain't nothing without any of those things.  

January 8, 2011

Is it any wonder?

Christmas time - hailed the most violent time for some families and equally, the most fortuitous for domestic violence agencies nationwide to launch their awareness campaigns and, ultimately, raise funds. So why is there a drop in the number of people seeking help while the domestic violence statistics continue to rise? 
Figures released by the Family Violence Death Review Committee show 41 people lost their lives to domestic violence, compared to the 19 deaths reported to police in 2008. Sixteen of the 41 were children. http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/concern-over-domestic-violence-statistics-3384919
The above figures, admittedly, deal with death rates. Undoubtedly, there are thousands more who survived domestic violence - thousands. We will never really know the true statistics for domestic violence in New Zealand because not every crime gets reported. 

Sure there are agencies out there primed to support fleeing mothers with their terrified off-spring but it's not cheap, financially, let alone emotionally. 

I am sure, like most of you out there who dig deep into your pockets come fund-raising time, that there was the assumption that most of these services you give your money to were actually free - like the Women's Refuge, for one. 

Now I am not ditching the organisation and I can personally state that their 'service' is not only paramount but could ultimately be responsible for saving a few lives. But I bet you never knew the women had to pay, right? 

Two Auckland based Women refuges that I looked into charged the women $190.00 and $200.00 per week respectively. No, that's not for an entire house. It's for a room in a shared house. On top of which, they were expected to pay (on average) three weeks rent in advance. If they don't have the funds, which is in most cases, they can apply to WINZ for a loan which they must pay back. After three weeks in a refuge, most women will be issued with an eviction notice. Sounds harsh but what it does do, is push them up that "qualifying" ladder when it comes to the Housing Corporation of New Zealand. 

Now aside from the fact that these women and children have been uprooted, experienced violence in the first place, they are now expected to pull it together, seek funding from a Government agency to live in a refuge and have the additional glee of being presented with an eviction notice. When do they get time to just breath? 

As I said before, I am not ditching the Women's Refuge but I will say, it's a rather prosperous business nonetheless. I mean, how many landlords in outer Auckland suburbs rake in $800.00 per week rental income on their four bedroom houses? 

That aside, the Police will always advise a woman, especially with children, to apply for a Protection Order which, as we have all come to know, is usually not worth the paper it's written on if you're one of the "lucky" ones who actually got one in the first place. A violent partner is hardly likely to back away from beating the crap out his victim cause she's standing there flapping some piece of paper. The only real use it has is, IF he breeches the Protection Order. In other words, the perp actually DOES come around after being told not to... in which case, it's really up to the police response team as to how much a victim endures, not a piece of paper. 

The answer? 

Grant the Police additional powers to enforced an instant Police Safety Order. (1400 removed by domestic violence law | Stuff.co.nz ) It has potential - it means the offender is removed from the home immediately for five days to ensure the woman has "time" to look into her options. However, of the 1400 issued thus far, only 11 proceeded to a 'Protection Order' category which is to say, a Judge agreed with the initial Police Officers decision to remove the offender and make it kind of more legal. Talk about undermining Police!

With all that in mind, it is any wonder less people are actually seeking help?