Justice for survivors of violent assault + making laws the deterrent they're meant to be

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A woman is walking to work and she's pulled violently and with intent into a Melbourne alleyway. Because it's 2020, we can all see the CCTV footage as it's shared far and wide. It's literally there in black and white for all to see. 

The perpetrator puts her in a headlock and pulls her to the ground as she tried to fight him off. He is larger and stronger than she, and his hand is firmly clamped across her mouth. He has his full body weight on her as she desperately tries to free herself. He continues to restrict her movement, with the full weight of his body, hand over her mouth. 

This attack, in broad daylight, is interrupted by a passerby who heard the commotion. The attacker flees leaving the woman on the ground.

The attacker was found guilty of common assault over the attack but not guilty of intending to sexually assault her. His bail has been extended, and he will return to court on November 12.

So, he gets a slap on the wrist, and she never feels safe again. Ever. The woman she was up to that point is gone forever and our courts add insult to injury by a complete lack of justice.

Other women who see this, feel even MORE unsafe than they already do because once again, an attacker has been allowed to attack with little to no lawful consequence.

Judgements like this further perpetuate violence against women. Attackers can drag a woman into an alleyway, violently assault them, and hope they're not interrupted to do with those they can physically overpower as they please. That's what this judgement says.

It says to all the attacks that go unreported that the survivor was right in knowing justice would not be served.

It says to those who do report that chances are, their experience will come second to the interpretation of a single person, who bases their decision on the skewed evidence given by the attacker. 

While we need objective, intelligent and experienced people in the role of those upholding the laws of our State, Judge Mandy Fox said, "... a dispassionate viewing of the CCTV footage shows that he is using his weight to control the complainant, who might be smaller and weaker but is still resisting and screaming".

So women don't resist and scream when they're being raped? Throughout a sexual assault? Is there some sort of timing to a rape that marks out how long attackers works to physically control their victim before they take it from physical assault to physical AND sexual assault?

This 'dispassionate', and frankly ignorant, viewpoint is unjust.

It is unjust to every woman, everywhere, and specifically to this woman. She was on her way to work as a nurse at a Melbourne hospital. She was all of us on our way to work, to study, to exercise, to play with our kids. It says to us, you're right, you're not safe. 

It says to attackers they'll likely get away with it. Especially when you look at the precedent set by notorious repeat offenders like Adrian Bailey, whose significant history of violence, and violent sexual crimes, continued to escalate until he murdered Melbourne woman, Jill Meagher.

He said himself he should never have been let out. 

The system is broken and seems to work to protect offenders, as opposed to survivors of assault, and the rest of the population.

We need laws that protect people, and act as a deterrent for the behaviours they're put in place to regulate.

Of course only one person knows their true intention of dragging a woman into a laneway and physically restraining her had he not been interrupted.

In a system based on precedent, combined with the realities of human behaviour (past behaviour predicts future behaviour), the CCTV footage and the statements from the survivor and the passerby, there has been a serious miscarriage of justice. Yes, absolutely for this specific woman, but it's much larger than that.

It's a miscarriage of justice for anyone who's ever felt unsafe.

Who's been targeted because they're different.

Or physically weaker.

It says to those who feel they can take whatever they please, whenever and from whomever, that if you don't get caught, or you don't complete the assault, that nothing will happen to you. At most, you'll likely get a slap on the wrist. 

How can anyone be dispassionate about that?

To the nurse, the woman in this case, I will fight for you. I will fight for the justice you deserve.

To all the woman who saw this, and felt more unsafe that ever, join me.

To all the people who don't want to live in a world where any type of assault isn't taken seriously, join us. 

To all those attackers, or would be perpetrators, your time is up. You WILL NOT continue to get away with your violence because together, we are stronger, more resilient, braver and just BETTER than you'll ever be.

Change the laws and educate those in charge of upholding them. Now.