Ten-year-olds aren’t “asking for it”, Judge.

The ABC reports that the past two years of criminal sentences handed down to Cape York crims will be reviewed.

This comes after a gang of nine teenagers and men raped a ten year old Aurukun girl. All of the juveniles (aged 14 to 16) were given 12 months of probation and no recorded conviction, and the three men (aged 17, 18 and 26) who gang-raped this little girl received six-month suspended sentences. The 26 year old, Raymond Frederick Woolla, is a repeat offender with a subsequent conviction for another pedophilia offence. Even he will serve no jail time.

Cairns-based Judge Sarah Bradley, while sentencing the rapists, said:

“The girl involved was not forced and she probably agreed to have sex with all of you.”

The little girl is now 12, but there’s no word on how she’s doing, apart from that she has had to be removed from her hometown and is now in the care of foster parents.



Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, law & order, violence

Tags: , , , ,

16 replies

  1. My boyfriend and I were discussing this earlier. Needless to say, we were both sickened.

  2. I’m the first to admit that my legal knowledge is extremely limited, but right now I’m feeling like I could snatch a seat on the Supreme Court bench if Judge Bradley’s expertise is anything to go by.
    Disregarding the horrific circumstances and the unlikelihood of a ten year old agreeing to have sex with 9 men, shouldn’t her age alone mean that they are guilty of committing rape?

  3. You just don’t expect a woman to go and do this – wasn’t there something similar with an American judge not long ago?

  4. Yes, Paul, I believe there were several cases in the US recently where the “she was asking for it” discourse has been deployed. One defense lawyer, I believe, said that a fat girl was probably happy for it. Riiiiiiight. How does shit like this go on?

  5. Is there no age of consent issue here? Even if she “consented” (which is absolutely absurd), a 10-year-old cannot give legal consent to a sex act. Isn’t that right? How did this happen?

  6. Ha, and not in a funny way.
    The link to the judge’s page shows her sitting smiling with the Aurukun Community Justice Group.
    Why are they tolerating her presence?

  7. Disturbing article in today’s Australian.
    * the girl is intellectually delayed due to fetal alcohol syndrome
    * she had been taken into care after previous sexual abuse in Aurukun, and placed with a very dedicated non-indigenous foster family in Cairns, but then was returned to Aurukun where she was unsupervised and the men gang-raped her
    There are fingers being pointed at social workers for taking her away from a “safe white family” because of the Stolen Generations stigma.
    There’s going to be a lot of blaming going around on this one.

  8. No judge (well, not in recent years) would dare say the same thing about a white girl. I don’t know if the judge was trying to be “culturally sensitive” but she was being a racist (applying a different set of standards for an Aboriginal girl).

  9. That’s a big problem that’s been mentioned – because of stupid fears over a “new Stolen Generation”, black kids are left in situations where a white kid would be removed in a heartbeat.
    It’s a sad irony that a lot of people have suffered cause of trying to deal with the well intentioned but disastrous policies of the past.

  10. Paul, I wouldn’t describe fears of another “Stolen Generation” stupid, even if some people’s overreactions to such fears might be counterproductive. I wouldn’t blame any indigenous family for being very frightened that authoritarian whites will use any policy, even one initially only meant to help, as a blunt instrument to take their children from them “just in case”.
    As HL Mencken (and probably others before him) said: every complex problem has a solution which is obvious, simple and wrong.

  11. Tig
    my main question was why should black kids be left in a situation where a white child would be removed in an instant – black, white or polka-dot, abusive parents or family should not be allowed to keep their children in a bad situation – it shouldn’t matter if it’s a white foster family or a black foster family.

  12. Unfortunately Paul W it’s not quite that clear cut. The girl’s family may have been doing their level best to care for her, but as any parent knows you can’t be with your child every second of the day. She should be safe in her community, but as this case amply demonstrates she isn’t. Unfortunately in many communities where traditional authority structures have broken down due to alcohol, drug abuse and petrol sniffing many children are in danger, despite their families best efforts. Of course there are also children neglected and at risk of harm from their own families, I’m not denying that, but even children from relatively stable families are at risk from elements in the communities around them. Taking the children away from their communities is not the answer, many of them pine and find it difficult to adjust to another family, just as any child would. A sense of being part of their community is still important for Aboriginal children, even more so than general society. Part of the solution is removing the abusive elements – which the judge in this case completely failed to do – and also the drugs, alcohol and petrol which fuel the situation.

  13. What Mindy said. Making girls and women “safer” from rape by removing them or (effectively) locking them up while their rapists run around free is arse backwards retraumatising victim-blaming.
    And since many women and girls are at risk from foster care or their own homes, there’s a pot-kettle situation here, where the only real solution is to do something about the fire. (both the flames and the fuel).
    There has been talk around the traps of perhaps this white judge trying to be “sensitive” to the high numbers of Aboriginal men in custody, and therefore letting them off with this wet-lettuce clip around the ears was a manifestation of her trying to be more sensitive to that problem. Unfortunately, she is both ignoring and blaming the victim, an Aboriginal girl, in the process. She, the brown girl, is being cast as a blank, a non-person, nothing more than a “willing” vagina; she isn’t even being accorded her actual status as a human rape victim. All has been taken from her. At the age of ten.

  14. Vicki:

    Is there no age of consent issue here? Even if she “consented” (which is absolutely absurd), a 10-year-old cannot give legal consent to a sex act. Isn’t that right? How did this happen?

    Vicki, you’re absolutely right (and I should have clarified that for our foreign friends). The age of consent is 16. Between 14 and 16 is a bit of a grey area. I know more about provision of sexual health services than about rape law in that age group – and I know I can determine a girl’s or boy’s maturity level under a set of principles, and provide sexual health care without parental consent for 14 & 15 year olds. Not many people get het up about 15 year old boyfriends/girlfriends having sex with each other.
    Under the age of 14, not so much, and under the age of 12 it is generally considered that a person is truly a child and not able to give meaningful legal consent to sexual activity at all under any circumstances.
    From the Queensland Criminal Code Act [PDF]:

    349 Rape
    (1) Any person who rapes another person is guilty of a crime.
    Maximum penalty—life imprisonment.
    (2) A person rapes another person if—
    (a) the person has carnal knowledge with or of the other
    person without the other person’s consent; or
    (b) the person penetrates the vulva, vagina or anus of the
    other person to any extent with a thing or a part of the
    person’s body that is not a penis without the other
    person’s consent; or
    (c) the person penetrates the mouth of the other person to
    any extent with the person’s penis without the other
    person’s consent.
    (3) For this section, a child under the age of 12 years is incapable of giving consent.

    Section 348 defines consent as “consent means consent freely and voluntarily given by a person with the cognitive capacity to give the consent.”, and absent consent as including consent obtained by force, threat, intimidation, fear of bodily harm, exercise of authority, false or fraudulent representations about the nature of the act, or mistaken belief that the accused was the person’s sexual partner. However, all of this is moot, since a ten year old BY DEFINITION cannot consent under any circumstances.
    This has been confirmed by the State Attorney-General, which is the basis for requesting an extension of the usual appeal time.

  15. I just made an update post. I can’t even SPEAK right now.

  16. “She, the brown girl, is being cast as a blank, a non-person, nothing more than a “willing” vagina; she isn’t even being accorded her actual status as a human rape victim. All has been taken from her. At the age of ten.”
    That’s so well put.

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