In all the debate surrounding the Little Children Are Sacred report, one assumption has held amongst all participants — that the report is well-founded and clear-eyed. The more I plough through it, the more I’m beginning to doubt even that.

In general, one needs to be suspicious of any identification of p-dophile rings, of communities gone crazed for child s-x, etc etc. A half-dozen major scandals in the US and the UK have established that a certain type of health and law professional can easily tip over into seeing p-dophilia everywhere.

The result was communities torn apart by accusations of s-tanic child s-x etc, people’s reputations and lives ruined, and much more. We’ve rightly grown sceptical of such scandals. Are we refusing to apply a similar scrutiny to LCAS simply because the events it assesses cross the racial divide?

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Some core passages in the report cannot but give cause for concern. One chapter announces a pretty horrifying catalogue of abuse giving rise to the suggestion that we are entering a world imagined by Hieronymous Bosch, with omnipresent multi-generational r-pe a commonplace. However, the descriptive passages further down describe a more tenuous reporting.

The most systematic occurrence the report notes is that of 12-15-year-old girls pr-stituting themselves to mining communities — the report notes that the girls are doing this willingly and unbidden, do not seem to be run by p-mps, and will climb fences to get at the miners. A pretty awful situation — and as I’ve noted one on display in a host of East European cities — but arising from a complex of economic factors and unlikely to be solved by the presence of troops, unless a 24-7 lockdown is proposed (no one has suggested that troops occupy mining towns).

When it gets down to sexual predation, the report gets more hazy:

In one community, the Inquiry was told about a non-Aboriginal man who ran an elaborate scheme that involved taking young Aboriginal girls from a remote community to town and trading s-x with the girls for drugs … the inquiry was told that, in one town, a non-Aboriginal man was regularly video-taping young girls doing s-xual acts …

In another community, a non-local Aboriginal health worker is alleged to have … provided goods, drugs and attention in exchange for s-x. (p.67)

“Was told…”, “was told…”, “is alleged”. Are these the networks of s-xual predators being reported in the news, or are networks being constructed on the basis of flimsier evidence? In other areas it is allegations:

Juvenile offenders

… The Inquiry was told of a range of juvenile offending, including a 12-year-old boy, allegedly interfering with a three-year-old, a 13-year-old boy allegedly interfering with a five-year-old, a 15-year-old boy who had interfered with a three-year-old and an eight-year-old, a 15-year-old girl who allegedly interfered with a group of younger boys, and a 14-year-old girl who allegedly interfered with girls and boys (p.65)

This is the second class of questionable evidence in the report stuff — in this case adolescent-child coercive s-x play — that goes on to an unknown degree in mainstream communities but whose importance may be being exaggerated here because Aboriginal communities are being subject to a scrutiny that would turn up similar levels of “dysfunction” in many white communities. The same can be said for findings that Aboriginal kids were being exposed to p-rn, adults having s-x and that 13-16-year-olds were having consensual s-x (p.68) — well, welcome to the 21st century, everyone.

The final class of evidence is the full Rumsfeld:

Intra-familial offending – incest

The Inquiry was not told many stories concerning intra-familial child sexual abuse. However, given the experiences of the community mentioned above, and noting the findings in other Australian jurisdictions, it is safe to assume that it is more prevalent than was identified in consultations. Also, given the parlous state of many communities, it may be on the increase. (p.63)

Got that? There was no evidence so we decided it was happening anyway. And was on the increase!

By now alarm bells should really be ringing, since the willingness to find things occurring “anyway” was the hallmark of the “satanic p-dophilia” scares of the ’80s. Without doubting the wealth of evidence of violence and alcohol-related problems in Aboriginal communities, are we nevertheless being stampeded into a state of received opinion — on the basis of which a section of the population are being deprived of their liberties.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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