A way forward on prosecuting sexual violence

My initial reaction to the police decision not to prosecute any of West Auckland’s young rapists was a cry of despair.

Nicola Gavey at Sexual Politics Now has a much more constructive response: an assessment of what went wrong and what could and should happen next.
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What have we done to our daughters?

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.

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Defining masculinity positively

Someone on Twitter posted this the other day (sorry, I forget who). It’s terrific:

… you’ve inherited the responsibility of creating a new answer to the ancient question of what it means to be a man. The old answers are no good.

Whether you believe that’s true because sexism harms men as much as women, or because feminism has undermined men too much, the article is a sterling read. Go look!

How to treat a woman wearing headphones like she’s not human

So apparently today the Prime Minister conveniently found some evidence of terrorist activity in New Zealand to justify the law change he’s about to force through to reduce our freedoms even further and also make the terrorist breeding-grounds of the world even more likely to target us because of the creepy little-brother thing we have going on with the USA where we unquestioningly follow them into every ridiculous conflict they interfere with, so today instead of getting any more depressed about civil liberties, we’re going to have a laugh.

Dan Bacon is a self-styled “dating and relationship expert”. I’m not going to link to him. You can look him up if you like.

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What does it mean to treat people like human beings?

The 2014 election was the first time I’ve ever had real trouble deciding how to vote. For the first time, no party represented my interests. My desire for liberty and efficiency, born of my training and work as an economist, clashed with my desire for a decent standard of living for all – a result of my socialist upbringing. My awakening feminism found no friends on the Right, and my liberalism was an uneasy companion on the Left.

After a lot of deep thought (and eventually voting strategically, which I loathe), I realised that there’s no real reason for my two ideologies to disagree. Everything I believe about how society should operate comes down to one basic tenet: treating people like human beings.

So what does that mean?

It means a basic standard of living, yes, but it also means having a care for what kinds of distortions are being created along the way.

It means letting people make their own choices. Trusting that they know what’s best for themselves, no matter whether they are a parent or a beneficiary or a criminal or a homeowner.

It means holding people to account for their choices while recognising that those choices are a product of the person’s preferences, incentives and social environment.

It means avoiding unnecessary intrusion into people’s lives, by the state, by the health or welfare or education system, by spy agencies.

It means letting business get on with its central function of adding value, seeking profit, and employing labour. It means allowing profit-seeking behaviour to identify the best types and means of doing business, giving everyone in society the best possible chance of having access to goods and services that satisfy their wants.

It means support for free market pricing and the conditions that lead to efficient decision-making, so that individuals’ choices are not unfairly constrained by inefficient markets.

It means every person and business that benefits from the system contributing to the cost of maintaining the system.

It means recognising market failure when it happens. It means promoting equality of opportunity without trying to dictate what that should look like. It means taking care of public goods so that everyone can benefit from them.

It means protecting the most vulnerable and supporting them in self-determination – to heal, to work, to parent, to stay alive.

And it means making sure that, when today’s kids grow up, there will be a meaningful role in society for them.