As Crikey finished up the year with a bang, readers responded with their own takes on what we thought the prime minister’s end of year message should say, and on Michael Bradley’s analysis on how the justice system fails the victims of sexual assault.
Tricia Cleary writes: I’ve shown my true colours this year, hope you like them! I’ve avoided the ABC and thus denied them any validity, and instead shown my practised Colgate smile and prepared slogans in the quick glimpses commercial television affords. I must have made Rupert proud — he invited me to his Christmas party. It cost the taxpayers a few more thousand, but who’s counting.
Mitchell Cosgriff writes: If ScoMo would just say “I’m resigning, effective immediately!” I would perhaps smile a little.
Jenny Pearce writes: I’m not sure that our judicial system is the best fit for anything, let alone rape trials. The adversarial nature of the process reduces the opportunity to get to truth and justice. I like the Scottish extra verdict “not convicted” for that hopefully narrow grey area where the jurors just aren’t sure enough to send someone to jail.
I also like the idea of a group of women getting together and devising ways to get justice for rape and abuse victims outside of our terrible court system and make the muckers (translate that word with another letter of the alphabet) think twice in the future. Rapes go unreported because those who suffered don’t want to suffer any more, more than one woman a week killed by a partner or former partner, violence to women everywhere we look — the baseball bat is looking good.
John Homan writes: As you correctly observe, where there is a power differential the accused has the advantage.
Some years ago I made a submission to the Victorian royal commission into domestic violence. My argument has validity with all minority and vulnerable groups. Women, children, disabled people and more. In it, I questioned the current interpretation of Blackstone’s maxim:
Blackstone’s maxim of 1765 states that ‘it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent should suffer’ …
British society in Blackstone’s time was highly class conscious to the point of creating the social construct of the ‘criminal classes’. The power differential between the judged and those doing the judging was immense. Defendants had much to lose (like their lives, or being transported to the colonies) for quite minor crimes. Did Blackstone attempt to protect the vulnerable of that time, the defendants?
I believe that by connecting the dots somewhat differently we can compensate for the power differential, and get better outcomes.
Mark Madden writes: More than six years ago, the Centre for Innovative Justice at RMIT released this report, titled Innovative Responses to Sexual Offending. The discussion and recommendations are as relevant today as they were then. There simply has to be — and is — a better way.
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