Thursday, 8 December 2011

Getting serious about sexual violence

The convicted rapist who moved next door to the woman he was imprisoned for raping seven years ago has been all over the news today.

He served a four year jail term for this offence. Last year, he served another year jail term for stealing another woman's underwear, ripping it, and returning it to her house. The judge who sentenced him for the second sexual offence called him a "high-risk recidivist offender". What this means is that it's unlikely he has accessed a full sexual offending programme while in prison, as these programmes have low - 5% in the last NZ study - recidivism rates.

What this also means, of course, is that a woman is now living next to a man who raped her. Apparently he can see into rooms of her house. She reported the rape, went to court, answered all the questions put to her, and took out a protection order to protect herself from him.

Most of the media coverage has focused on how awful it is that the law can do nothing.
Southern District police area commander Inspector Lane Todd confirmed that police had no legislative power to prevent Crofts from living next door to his victim unless he committed another offence.
This is absolute nonsense, and it infuriates me that the media has swallowed it. Let's look at the legislation, specifically the standard conditions for a protection order which state that the respondent (person the order is against) cannot:
watch, loiter near, or prevent or hinder access to or from, the protected person’s place of residence, business, employment, educational institution, or any other place that the protected person visits often;
And then there are the special conditions - which, if I was supporting this woman and this was what she wanted, I'd be going back to Family Court with her to access:
Where the court makes a protection order, it may impose any conditions that are reasonably necessary, in the opinion of the court, to protect the protected person from further domestic violence by the respondent, or the associated respondent, or both.
Living next door to the man who raped you, who knew you lived there when he chose his new home, is not a reasonable expectation in a country which takes sexual and domestic violence seriously. The Police have the tools to deal with this situation, and they are choosing not to use them. Yet again, the state is failing to protect survivors of sexual or domestic violence.

That's the real story here. Our legislation, in this instance, is fine. It's the failure of the state to implement our legislation which is the problem.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this. I had thought that the existing legislation should protect her and was confused as to why the police said they couldn't do anything.
Kind of reminds me of when I was doing some volunteer work, talking to someone who had taken a trespass order against her abusive son which the police wouldn't enforce.

A Nonny Moose said...

And now it comes to light the man and his friends have been systematically harassing her. This moving in next door is not a coincidence.

This is our rape culture in action. I am so furious I am literally shaking and want to go down there and rabble rouse. The Invercargill police need a kick up the arse.