Leave aside for one moment the debate over whether the ‘world famous in NZ‘ “muso” convicted of a sex offence against a 16 year old female deserved the benefit of permanent name suppression and whether or not he should be named. A few important points seem to have been either forgotten about or have been trampled to the ground in the excitement:
1. ‘Everyone’ seems to think they know who ‘he’ is, including John Key. What irreperable damage is this speculation doing to the reputations of innocent people, some of whom may not even know they’re the subject of gossip and speculation?
Some ‘musos’ have recently suffered “Trial by Wikipedia” where multiple edits have been made on Wikipedia, a site that is hosted outside of New Zealand. Even though the edits have now been removed the information is still clearly evident in the history pages.
2. What message is it sending out to the victims of sex offenders? especially younger ones, how seriously will they be taken if they have the courage to come forward and report a crime? We’ve probably all seen reprehensible comments calling into question the morals of the victim and phrases like “contribuatry negligence” being bandied around.
Add to that the furore over the Louise Nicholas rape trial with the issues it raised about suppression of information, and the enormous problems women have with being taken seriously, and it’s not hard to understand why NZ has an appalling record for sex crimes.
NZ has the world’s highest number of female rape victims as a percentage of the population, only 9% of sexual offences get reported to police (is it any wonder, given the above?) and of those only 13% of rapes resulted in convictions. The median age of victims is 23 and 61% of them are Europeans – See ‘Conviction rate in sex cases‘.
3. What does this say about NZ’s obsession with status? money, position and fame always ‘talks’.
4. It re-inforces the message seen in other court cases that the rights of the criminal are held in higher regard than those of their victim.
Weeks ago the heartbroken father of murdered student Sophie Elliott was forced to read out in court an edited version of his deeply personal victim impact statement, he called it “just another way the justice system puts victims down“.
At the end of the trial Sophie’s uncle had said there was “nothing about the legal process designed to make it any easier on victims. We have had no choice but to sit and watch it unfold and hope for the best, whilst he is allowed to talk and pass notes to his legal team any time he wants”
5. What restorative justice will be made to the young woman, for both the original assault and the emotional harm subsequently caused?
In 2007 the Herald named Louise Nicholas, New Zealander of the Year saying
“Her contribution stood out. It was distinguished by the willingness to suffer deeply personal exposure for the sake of exposing an ugly element in one of our most important public institutions. And it forced all of us to question what indeed is justice.”
A question that has still to be answered.
So here’s two more…if NZ didn’t have such an obsession with the particular type of music/youth culture (a multi million dollar industry in NZ) this sex offender is involved with would he still have been granted name suppression after his conviction? It’s not as is this guy is particularly well known outside of NZ, hardly a ‘Fat Boy Slim’. If, for instance, he’d been an aging, washed up ex pop star convicted of stalking young girls would everything have been very different?
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