So the police have decided not to lay charges against the “roast busters” statutory rapists of West Auckland. They cite a lack of evidence, with very little eyewitness testimony and most of the available evidence being of the “hearsay” type that judges tend to disallow.
One contributing factor to this lack of evidence was a lack of victims willing to make formal statements:
Police said 25 girls who were believed to be victims of some form of sexual offending refused to provide formal statements.
However, a further five girls approached by police did make formal statements. Those five joined two girls who had already contacted police but whose complaints had languished until media attention brought the case to prominence.
Seven victims should be more than enough (seven, my god, that’s horrific; seven young lives hurt in this way, it shouldn’t even be about the numbers). But maybe the interrelated nature of all these crimes genuinely makes it difficult to get good testimony about any one incident. The slow pace of the investigation can’t have helped; witnesses interviewed years after the event are surely less likely to give admissible testimony than if they were interviewed while the events were fresh in their minds.
But again, maybe the evidence would be more admissible if more girls had given statements. Maybe, with a connected chain of offending against many victims, a judge would be happier to admit certain types of evidence. Or maybe more links could be drawn between different pieces of evidence.
Which makes this especially sad:
The father of another teenage girl who complained to police said a lot of parents would be upset with the decision, but that he understood that many girls involved who chose not to complain, did so because their parents wouldn’t allow them.
He believed the girls involved were worried about bullying if they went public.
Who’s telling these girls they can’t speak about being abused, that they’ll upset their parents, that they’ll get bullied? Maybe it is their parents. Maybe it’s their friends. Maybe it’s the police, ignoring those first few complaints, letting girls think that rape is normal and not worth complaining about. Maybe it’s the media and celebrities and politicians repeating the same hurtful messages over and over.
Maybe it’s all of us. Everyone in society, somehow making it okay to rape but not okay to report rape; not safe to come forward, not safe for a girl to complain and stand up for her rights.
And it will never be safe while the current sick mainstream victim-blaming attitude persists. Every time someone asks what a girl was wearing or how she was drinking, some young girl sees that and the whole horrible cycle starts again.
We need so much less of that and so much more of this: