Tag Archives: domestic violence

Why Rosie Batty has it wrong

Rosie Batty has it wrong. There is no doubt she has endured terrible tragedy and been the victim not only of domestic violence but of a failed system. She’s a strong and resilient woman. However, this doesn’t mean she’s right.video-undefined-1CC1743B00000578-474_636x358

Domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a mental health issue. Now this may seem obvious to most but to some this has seemingly gone over their heads. Furthermore, while women are primarily the victims of domestic violence, it’s overwhelmingly a men’s issue, a drug and alcohol issue and a community issue, not a women’s issue.

And no amount of refuge funding, crisis accommodation or advertising dollars is going to change that.

I can imagine the perpetrator of domestic violence watching a TV add that criticizes his behaviour jumping up, saying he’s sorry to everyone and forevermore changing his ways. Unlikely.couple

The nuclear family, our society’s lynchpin for family relationships is a breeding ground for all types of dysfunctional behaviour. While those more well-off in society may find the nuclear family  tenable, those locked away in three bedroom brick veneer in the ‘risk area’ fringes of our cities and regional centres are doing it tough.  Without extended family help, financial security and a supportive community, these couples exist in a cauldron few cope well with.  The pressure to pay the mortgage – often a pressure falling on the man, is a pressure that is often too much to bear. It didn’t work in the 1950’s and it doesn’t work now.

Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. In regional and fringe areas, this figure is greater. While women obviously feel the pressure that nuclear family isolation provides, women are more likely to have a social group for sharing and working things out. Men on the other hand are more likely to take refuge in alcohol or other substances in order to quell their depression – a depression they are unlikely to admit to. The crystal meth epidemic has taken hold in Australia. Add this to the availability of alcohol and we have a mental health crisis, a crisis with domestic violence as just one of the by-products.

Rosie Batty’s focus on the court and refuge system is missing the point completely.  Yes, there needs to be consistency in the law and support for victims. Yes, the $400,000 per year to keep an asylum seeker is silly when we have problems on the home front. Yes, saving the lives of woman and children is important.

Yet so is the overall improvement of services that support men as well as women.  As a society we must address the problem at its root cause, not simply provide a band-aid after the cut is made. For then the damage is done and can’t be reversed.

In a civilized society, we’ll stop it happening in the first place.

2016: Sex crimes & Castration

This is an updated version of the piece that first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in August 2005. In 2016, nothing has changed and sex-crime perpetrators continue to re-offend.

In 2000, Bilal and Mohammed Skaf were sentenced to a total of 79 years jail for their part in a horrifying series of gang rapes in Sydney’s western suburbs. Even with their collective 79 years imprisonment, the youngest of the Skaf brothers was nearly released in 2013. Thankfully rational law won out. The victims, who undoubtedly knew their rapists’ possible release dates all too well, would have been horrified.

In our search for a just and appropriate punishment for crimes such as domestic sexual assault, rape or child sexual abuse , we’ve opted to take the easy option. Our penal system is a system where ‘rehabilitation’ revolves around psychological counseling and where repeat offense is not unusual, but horribly common. The touchy-feely approach isn’t working.

Its time therefore to look at a different punishment and rehabilitation formula; one that will create a sense of security for the victims and a sense of security for a community obviously alert to the horror of sex crimes. We also need a formula that aims for a more tolerable after-prison experience for the perpetrators – not one dominated by public hate and lifelong humiliation.

Castration is currently the sex-crime punishment in several US states and is used as a treatment for repeat sex offenders in many European countries. The actual form of castration varies from chemical castration, where the perpetrator needs monthly injections, to surgical castration which involves removal of the testicles. In women, removal of the ovaries, uterus and possibly clitoris may be necessary.

Whatever the form, castration is a proven method of reducing not only the offender’s sexual urges, but the hormone influenced aggressive traits that produce the violent sex crimes we’ve increasingly seen in Australia. It’s clear from the statistics that violent sexual abuse is more likely committed by men.

A German study compared 100 surgically castrated sex offenders and 35 non-castrated sex offenders ten years after their release back into the community. The repeat sex-crime rate of castrated offenders was 3%, while the repeat crime rate for non-castrated offenders was an astonishing 46%. Other studies from Denmark and the Czech Republic  reveal similar results. The Danish study revealed that the few repeat sex-crimes by castrated offenders were all non-aggressive and non-violent.

In 2016 Alabama, legislation is currently being debated where perpetrators of sex crimes that target children are surgically castrated.  This would apply to both men and women. According to The Huffington Post, “The punishment would apply to both male and female offenders who at the age of 21 or older sexually victimized children age 12 or younger.” While the actual legislation is likely to be tempered, Alabama won’t stand alone in introducing surgical castration for both men and women who commit crimes against children.

There will no doubt be a cry from civil libertarians that castration in any form is barbaric and not a punishment suited to a civilized and democratic society like Australia. I would urge these individuals to also consider if giving the perpetrators a post-prison life of public hate, humiliation and harrasment is civilised. In the USA, it isn’t uncommon for sex offenders to undergo voluntary castration, knowing that they are often the mercy of urges that are virtually impossible to control. They also realise a life out of prison is far preferable to a life inside. Child-Sexual-Abuse-Lawyer-Attorney

A true civilized society sees the sociopathic behaviour of the rapist or child sexual abuser as a condition that must be dealt with on both psychological and physiological levels. Our current fixation with prison-based, touchy-feely psychological rehabilitation programs is not only costly, but clearly not providing either the victims, or the community with any sense of continued security.

A sense of security for the victims above all else is what we should be aiming for. Knowing that the perpetrator is unlikely to commit the same sort of crime on release, and be largely incapable of doing so, would give some degree of security to those who have surely suffered enough.

In 2016 we continue to hear of child sexual abuse  cases occurring over years in church operated schools and institutions. We hear of dance studios, scouting groups and even defense organisations tolerating sexual abuse. As the number of repeat offenders grows, it’s time to look at a punishment that fits the crime. While it may be inhumane to some, castration will act as a deterrent and a punishment; a punishment that will create community security and give some sense of relief to the perpetrators of these crimes.