We, like the rest of the nation were outraged at the breaking news this week regarding a group of young men calling themselves “Roastbusters” These young men, who appear to think they are ‘the man’ by stupefying and raping underage girls, clearly have a warped sense of reality, as well as misogynistic and deviant behaviors that need to be challenged, and held to account.
We are equally outraged to learn that the original reports from Police, that there were no complaints made in relation to the incidents, going back to 2011, are in fact incorrect. On 3News last night (6/11/2013) it was revealed that there had in fact been a complaint made by a young woman in 2011 and this morning’s news reports state that a total of four young women have come forward since that time. Yet it was still determined that there was not sufficient evidence in order to charge these young men with having committed any criminal activity.
As an organisation whose job it is to keep women and children safe, we want to know why?
These young women, who did have the courage to make a complaint to Police, are said to have been made to feel that it was indeed their fault that these acts occurred. And unfortunately this is not an isolated incident.
We have, on many occasions, had to challenge systems that appear to support the inference that these acts were the fault of the victim, as opposed to that of the perpetrator. It is a very familiar scenario for victims of sexual crimes, as well as victims of domestic violence. And it’s not good enough.
So the question begs to be answered. What is expected as evidence to prove a person guilty of criminal acts such as these? More often than not, victims are made to feel that they are powerless within a system that appears to support perpetrator’s rights over their own.
Our criminal and justice system fails these victims and it fails the perpetrator, when there is no accountability for their actions and the system seems to reinforce their already warped sense of sexuality and, in this instance, manhood.
A recent ruling in Auckland where two young German tourists were raped and their accuser was acquitted by the jury reinforces our argument and highlights our questions and concern. Questions raised as to why they were wearing the clothes they were, serve no purpose other than to shift the blame from where it actually belongs. With the rapist.
But the fact is that these young men had to have learnt this behaviour from somewhere. And the finger needs to be squarely pointed at our own society.
When people are going crazy reading books like 50 Shades of Grey, which endorses deviant sexual behaviour, albeit supposedly consensually; it gives our young men and women a distorted view of what a healthy, safe and mutually respectful sexual relationship should be all about. If you’re signing up to anything that you’re uncomfortable with or any relationship where you have no control, it’s not consensual. It’s exploitation. Its abuse and it’s wrong. You deserve better than that.
The ways in which women are portrayed in the media, in music videos and movies, does nothing but serve to reinforce the misogynistic stereotype that women and girls are there to be used and not as entities within their own right. Those ‘blurred lines’ need to be questioned and most importantly challenged.
As a nation we need to take a long hard look at what we consider appropriate social behaviour. What we consider to be violence and what it will take to make sure that we can effectively keep our women and children safe from the predatory nature of those who choose to abuse?
In 2004 research conducted by Dr Janet Fanslow was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal stating that one in three New Zealand women had been the victim of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. While this research has been hotly contested, it’s probably right to suggest that, given this week’s news, those statistics are more relevant today because victims don’t speak up for fear of how they might be construed and judged by a society that appears to condone such behaviour.
We need to be doing a better job of educating our young men and women about what healthy and respectful relationships look like and the Government needs to take a pivotal role in ensuring that this is introduced into our education system.
When prominent men like Willy Jackson and John Tamahere (who should know better) make public statements on Radio Live that endorse misogyny and victim blaming, you have to wonder where our country is going and how serious we really are about keeping our women and children safe?
We have learnt this morning that Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, has been summoned to the beehive. We are sure the Minister will have some very tough questions to ask and it is our hope that her influence will ensure the law is followed and these young men are charged with their crimes.
As an organisation we will never condone these young men’s behaviour and we lay down a challenge to all of our society to take a long hard look at what our own behaviors say to our kids in order for them to think that this kind of behaviour is OK.
Real men don’t take advantage of young women and they don’t prey on young girls.
The time is now for our country to make a stand.
Rape is rape and It’s Not OK.