July 1, 2011 by esarsea
Written by, and reprinted with permission from Anni Piper…
“When I tell people how I spent the Queen’s Birthday weekend this year, the most common reaction is ‘What the heck is “Slutwalk”?’ Read on if you’d like to know……
Slutwalk is a protest against our legal system’s treatment of those who are sexually assaulted. Alongside a large group of others in their fishnets and corsets, I strutted through the streets of Sydney, figuratively giving the finger to those who would judge us on our manner of dress.
The first Slutwalk was organised earlier this year in Toronto, Canada, after a police officer told a group of female university students that they could avoid being sexually assaulted if they “didn’t dress like sluts”. This ignorant attitude is perpetuated daily, and it’s high time we turned it around. Research clearly shows that sex offenders do not target victims according to the clothes they wear, but rather by their vulnerability. Sex offenders target victims when they perceive an opportunity to manipulate them, by force or coercion, into a situation where they will be uninterrupted by witnesses.
I myself am a survivor of childhood sexual assault. In a trial earlier this year, the alleged offender (someone from outside the family) was found not guilty of over 30 counts of child sex offences. There was overwhelming evidence, found by police in this pervert’s bedroom, to prove I was telling the truth & justify the police prosecution. He confessed to police, and his legal team even offered a diminished guilty plea. We chose not to accept it and the case went to trial. What they were offering would have amounted to slap on the wrist and a very short custodial sentence, if any. This “man” should be spending the rest of his life in jail, where he can’t perpetrate against anyone else’s children. But of course, to ensure a “fair trial”, the jury couldn’t hear about his offers of a guilty plea, or of his prior criminal conviction for violence against women (and, of course, the intrinsic design of our wonderful legal system ensures that he did not even have to take the stand, nor be questioned in court in any way about any of the offences)
Before this I had always had faith in the legal system; I believed in the concept of justice. But after ten days of giving evidence, all my faith in our legal system was gone. Shamefully, the defence barrister was allowed to question me about “how provocative” my manner of dress was as a fourteen year old girl. I was questioned about my album ‘Jailbait’ and its associated logo. I was questioned about whether professional photographs of me from my website were provocative. I was portrayed as a sexually precocious thirteen year old who willfully seduced a man in his forties. What a load of bullshit! I was outraged, not only for myself, but for the 1400 other survivors who go through this every year in NSW alone.
Sexual assault is an especially heinous crime. It’s also the easiest crime of all to get away with, and the predators that commit these crimes know this. Currently, in the NSW District Court, 80% of ‘alleged’ child sex offenders are found not guilty.
As a parent, I find this an alarming statistic. Our police do not press charges in this type of crime unless they are absolutely certain an offence has been committed. Keep in mind that only a small amount of victims ever come forward, and only a fraction of these cases ever go to trial. There is only one way to explain it; sex offenders are getting away with their crimes. The legal system is failing us all – survivors, parents, and our community as a whole.
My song ‘Jailbait’ is based on some of my experiences as a child. Little was I to know that art would imitate life, as per my lyrics:
Judge just set you walkin’ free, when he took one long look at me
As it turns out, in reality that’s exactly what happened. That the jury has very strong belief of guilt is simply not good enough under the current system. Juries are instructed by Judges that they must, beyond all reasonable doubt, be able to prove that each & every charge can be proven beyond all reasonable doubt….something astoundingly difficult to do when physical evidence is often not freely available.
I’m on a mission to end this appalling treatment of sexual assault victims in the legal system. We must stop blaming the victims and start punishing the offenders. How can you help? More details to come soon…..”
For more information about Slutwalk, including upcoming satellite marches in your area, visit Slutwalk’s website here. – SRC