This is an updated version of the piece that first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in August 2005. In 2019, 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 leadership role in a horrifying series of gang rapes in Sydney’s western suburbs. Even with their collective 79 years imprisonment, Mohammed (the youngest of the Skaf brothers) was nearly released in 2013. Thankfully rational law won out and his term was extended. He will be eligible for parole on the 1st July 2019.
The victims, who undoubtedly know their rapists’ possible release dates all too well, will be 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 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 was debated where perpetrators of sex crimes that target children are surgically castrated. In 2019, it is still being debated. 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 final 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 harassment is civilised. In the USA, it isn’t uncommon for sex offenders to undergo voluntary castration, knowing that they are often at 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.
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 2019 we continue to hear of child sexual abuse 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.
Not serious, but worth a giggle…
- Anything I read, see or hear can be used for any purpose which brings me money or adulation.
- Nothing you share with me is private including rude pictures, nasty comments about others or posts / messages written between 1am – 5am when you’ve been out but can’t remember where.
- If shared with me, your medical history will be made available to any organization legal or illegal unless you then pay a service fee to me for the recall of that information. The fee will be less than $23,000
- As a ‘friend’ on this service, I reserve the right to make up inappropriate yet convincing stories related to your personal affairs, health status, relationships, employment or financial dealings. Your name will be used fully in these stories and include a face photograph if necessary.
- Any photograph you post can be changed to reflect my mood at the time which is often depressed, lonely and sad. Altered photographs will be re-posted within 24 hours.
- Any ‘friend’ posting overly positive, funny, happy or celebratory items not in keeping with my mood will have angry face emojis stuck to that post. These emojis will also be posted by the 2,472 other profiles I own on this service. This particularly relates to holiday photos, baby snaps, wedding items or anything to do with birthdays.
- Finally, my friendship is free and always will be unless you are deemed to be overly costly in terms of not liking, commenting and sharing my posts. ‘Friends’ not liking, commenting or sharing my posts/photographs will be charged a fee based on their Body Mass Index (BMI) which I currently hold on record. This record is updated daily according to the number of calories in food photographs you post here, on Instagram or any text message I receive.
Below is an email that could have been sent to Craig McLachlan from the numerous women who’ve accused him of sexual harassment. Even though the accusations are from just four years ago, there is no written record.
I’ll tell you now that this email has been Bcc’d to six other cast members – three women and three men. They won’t find it a shock as they know my concerns and expect the email. The email is date stamped so acts as a record of correspondence. Isn’t it great to live in 2014!
If you feel ‘set-upon’ or uncomfortable with this, you could forward my email to management so that they can act as your ‘eyes and ears’ just as my six colleagues are acting as mine. I’d invite that.
I’ve made it clear to you on three occasions now that your inappropriate words and actions are not welcome. I hate it. While I think you’re a great actor, I’m not in any way attracted to you. Your sexual remarks during performance and physical contact are not wanted. I’ll be clear. Don’t make any physical contact nor utter any words that aren’t in the script.
Yes, it’s 2014 and Rolf Harris has just been jailed for five years. The women in his case are clearly after his paintings and the royalties from his songs. I’m not like that. I don’t want this to become a media circus to attract broadcast ratings and I’m not after money. This is also not a gender based anti-male thing. I just don’t appreciate your non-scripted words and actions.
I will not be taking your behavior to management at this time. However, if it continues after the 11/9/2014, I will have no hesitation in reporting your behavior to management with the support of my six colleagues.
There will be no one-to-one discussion on this matter between you and I. Any attempt at private communication outside of scripted lines will be deemed harassment. Mobile phones are capable of recording and did you know there is a new phone app that records video to the cloud? Amazing.
I sincerely hope you take this seriously.
Christie Whelan Browne (and the rest)
PS: If you don’t get this it’s because I thought my career and the dollars it would bring were more important and gee, every man (or woman) has their price. Didn’t Thomas More say that?
A version of the following article first appeared in ‘Online Opinion’ in 2014 under the title ‘Obliterating the past obliterates its lessons’. As an entertainer who once performed on the same bill as Rolf Harris, I was moved to write this after he had his Aria Award revoked and his songs removed from playlists Australia wide. Harris was found guilty and he deserves his punishment. However, he also needs to be remembered for his positive contribution to Australian music.
Here’s a crass riddle for you. What has ancient Egyptian pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut and Rolf Harris got in common? Mmmm? The answer could lie in the fact that while living more than 3,500 years apart, they were both celebrities.
Yet that’s not it. The answer is that both of these individuals are victims of ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ – the practice of chiseling, painting over or otherwise removing a person’s image or legacy from public view so to be purged from the national psyche. Sometimes it’s done by ordinary people as a sort of communal catharsis. Sometimes it’s ordered by a new regime or powerful elite as a prescribed amnesia. They did it to Saddam Hussein and they did it to ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. They wanted to do it to Bill Clinton. They’ve done it to Robert E Lee. Watch out Ned Kelly.
Most of the time, it doesn’t matter if the individual had performed hundreds of good deeds in the past or even managed, as in the case of Hatshepsut, to build a flourishing nation. The new dynasty of Pharaohs scraped her face off buildings anyway. Those who render ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ (let’s call it DM from now on), look only to the ‘perceived’ dark side of a person’s character and condemn them on that.
I say ‘perceived’ dark side as it’s often the political thinking of the day that decides what is dark and what is not. It can also be decided by money, ideology and gender. These days it can also be decided by who has a Smartphone in the vicinity.
While some DM may be deserved, University of North Carolina Lecturer Sarah Bond recently wrote that the practice does more to cement the individual in the national mind than remove it. The image may not stay in the public eye, but it stays in the mind and in legend where it can be distorted – sometimes positively.
It’s also true that without the image or legacy of a disgraced individual to reflect on, we can’t possibly learn the lessons their downfall could teach us. A faultless history makes for a system of theoretical learning with no grounding in reality. We learn far more from the mistakes and horrors of history than its wonders. A sanitised national fairy tale is a useless teacher.
Yet why do some disgraced celebrities get DM’d while lots of other bad as hell celebrity types have their crimes forgotten and the ‘bright’ side of their character lauded? Why is one guilty celebrity damned while another praised?
Nigel Milsom, one of Australia’s most successful artists, was recently awarded the Nation’s richest art gong – the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize while in prison for armed robbery. Brandishing a tomahawk, Milsom most certainly inflicted psychological damage on some poor worker while trying to rob a shop under the influence of crystal meth. While out of character and influenced by depression, it was in anyone’s language, a crime. His Portrait Prize remains however and so it should.
Radio personality Alan Jones has been found guilty of defamation, racial vilification or contempt of court on no less than 12 occasions. He has hurt millions through racially motivated comment. His blathering about Julia Gillard’s father “dying of shame” has been condemned from both sides of politics. He received an Order of Australia in 2004 for his charity work. He still has it.
Much closer to Rolf Harris is Roman Polanski. While not a home grown celebrity, his contribution to international cinema is unquestioned. He received many awards years after being found guilty of the rape of a 13 year old girl and has many more awards pending. He’ll probably get them. So he should.
Now I was no great fan of Rolf (notice past tense – I’ve subconsciously DM’d him), yet I did on one occasion perform on the same bill. He got far more applause than me and deservedly so. He was good; very good. As an entertainer he made the lives of millions brighter. He changed the direction of Australian music and gave national identity linked with humour a place on 20th century radio playlists around the country and around the world.
Harris is being treated like Saddam Hussein. His image is being removed from murals across the country. His Aria Wall of Fame award has been revoked and his portrait removed from the National Portrait Gallery. Radio won’t play has stuff and I’m waiting for the ABC songbooks to be re-written. The Pharaohs of Egypt would be proud.
Just as Jones, Milsom and Polanski remain recognized as influential contributors in their field, so should Harris. His bright side – that of an outstanding entertainer must remain in our national psyche.
Harris was stupid. His dark side was judged and he will pay for his crimes – probably in far more ways than we’ll ever know. Yet our inability to see that all of us are capable of doing both good and bad things is even more stupid. When we fail to recognise this in the celebrities and sports stars we condemn, we fail to recognise it in ourselves and a white picket fence perspective of national identity becomes a deceitful norm.
Unlike an amoeba, we are multi-dimensional beings, and not all of those dimensions are socially or legally acceptable. Cutting off the nose of a nation in order to rewrite history may have been done in ancient Egypt, yet in 21st century Australia, we should hope that our local pharaohs have a more rational view of history and humanity.
Cory Bernardi is a funny guy. A very funny guy. He’s likeable in a down-homey kinda way that reminds you of country town museums or Chiko rolls – both things that reflect the Australia that used to be, not the Australia we know today.
While we know what the news tells us about young Cory, he tends to have a few skeletons in the closet he’d rather us not know about. I guess it’s like the nasty secrets in a country town museum or even worse, the secrets inside a Chiko Roll.
Since at least 2012, Bernardi has been the Australian representative to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is funded by big business (corporate members) and consists of politicians (nearly all Republican), business representatives and ‘Task Force’ members who work on special projects. Young Corey is one of these.
The membership, activities and communications of ALEC are secret and closely guarded, yet a couple of US journos have managed to infiltrate the membership base – no doubt to Bernardi’s horror. The public interest group ‘Common Cause’ has also won legal battles to reveal members, yet the activities and plans of ALEC are strictly confidential. Hard to know, easy to guess.
At ALEC we see big business working alongside politicians to help draft laws that will benefit them. The ultra-conservative ‘Lawyers for Civil Justice’ are members and a terrific help here. Corporate members include tobacco, oil and pharmaceutical companies. It also includes the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The NRA uses ALEC to get laws passed that benefit weapon manufacturers and the NRA agenda. Reducing the restrictions on gun ownership and fostering the ability to bear weapons in ‘open carry’ is typical NRA conversation. If the NRA had their way, every high school student would carry a gun. So would every teacher.
This isn’t covert stuff, but widely known in American political circles. Businesses like Glaxo Smith Kline, Exxon Mobil and News Corp all belong to and use ALEC to the max to foster their business aims. Don’t believe me? The full list of all members can be found HERE.
Interestingly, big companies like Amazon, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and McDonald’s and are all ex members who were either barred due to their beliefs or voluntarily withdrew their membership and support. Some ex members like the grain exporting giant Cargill deny ever having been a member. Evidently it’s just bad PR.
Yet young Cory jets off every year to strut his stuff on the ALEC stage, support the NRA killing machine and bring back wonderful ideas on how Australia can be more like America. He’ll jet off in July to the next ALEC AGM and come back with lots of good stuff there’s no doubt. Gun ownership will be high on his list as will conservative civil law reform. It will be the lawyers, guns and Cory Bernardi show! As Warren Zevon said in his 1978 hit ‘Bring lawyers, guns and money’, … “Get me outa here!”
Why both sides of politics has let this human firecracker even get on a plane let alone represent Australia at one of the biggest conservative talk fests in the world is the question we should be asking. What’s worse is that we the taxpayer pay for this jaunt.
So Cory, one of your skeletons is out of the closet and I guess there’s more to come. After the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012 I tried to get some Aussie journos interested in your little hobby and a couple were. I think a few more will be now.
For immediate release
19th November 2016 – 8am
Debutantes receive Baggy Green Caps in preparation for 3rd Test
The 3rd test team to play South Africa starting on 24th November in Adelaide has been named with some surprises signaling a change in direction for Australian cricket.
The team is Steve Smith (C), David Warner (VC) Usman Khawaja, Buddy Franklin (WK), Tim Cahill, Mitchell Starc, Israel Filou, Steven Bradbury, Nathan Lyon, Black Caviar, Cooper Cronk and Digger the Staffy x Cattle dog (12th man).
With two non-humans in the squad Cricket Australia expects some raised eyebrows from traditionalists but Chairman James Sutherland states the selection is entirely within the rules.
“There is absolutely nothing in the rules that forbids including non-humans in the squad. There are rules about gender but no mention of species. Both Cavo and Digger are males and are fitting in well with the others. We’re expecting big things from both of them.
“Black Caviar is extremely intimidating in the field – especially when fielding at short leg. Digger is very fast in the outfield and returns the ball with tremendous enthusiasm.” Sutherland said.
The squad will commence training at Rosehill Racecourse before flying out in two shipping containers on Wednesday.
Perhaps Steven Bradbury, the Gold Medal winning Aussie Speed skater from the 2002 Winter Olympics was the biggest surprise of all. He has been chosen for his ability to come back from last to win at all costs.
“I’m delighted to be chosen and am going out today to buy a bat. I’m taking big Davey Warner with me to help choose and we’re looking forward to shopping together.” Bradbury said.
Other newcomers like Cahill, Cronk, Folau and Franklin have been watching footage of games from the 1970’s involving stars like Doug Walters, Max Walker and Greg Chappell in order to learn the game quickly and properly. Israel Folau has been particularly taken with the skills and demeanor of Doug Walters who he is trying to emulate in every way.
“I never thought I’d take up smoking and drinking but I’ll do anything for Australian Cricket. Dougy was doing 40 cigs a day when he scored a century in both innings against the Windies. If that’s what it takes I’ll do it.” Folau said.
Tickets to the game go on sale on Monday wth CA adding a new ‘pet friendly’ seating zone for fans of Digger and Caviar to watch their debut.
Media Contact: Phil Dye 0412 678 179
Negative gearing is seemingly off the table in the heady season of Malcolm Turnbull tax reform. Yet perhaps Malcolm should take a lateral look at the tax problem and that seemingly untouchable bastion of our tax system: God-gearing.
While religious groups often declare that their members can in some way skirt around the death issue, they also enjoy a tax-free status most of us only dream about. And it’s not only the large corporate religions that benefit from our Aussie God-geared tax haven. Every small sect who manage to cobble together a merry band of deluded followers can claim religious tax-free status.
Is it because our politicians consider God-gearing a kind of insurance against group electoral action? Perhaps. Is it a small gesture in case the hereafter does exist? Unlikely.
What has always been the argument is that religious groups have significant ‘public benefit’ and therefore need some sort of special consideration. And The Australian Tax Office has a peculiar reference to the ‘spreading of religious doctrine and practice’ as being necessary criteria for obtaining tax-free status. Doesn’t the Islamic State do that?
I bet that you, as either an individual taxpayer or business owner also have significant public benefit. You either undertake work that facilitates economic and community growth or provide people with employment . Most of us, religious or not, do our best to create a world that is positive and livable. Good works are not the sole domain of the believer.
As an educator, I have hopefully given individuals some benefit over the past 40 years and will continue to do so. I find it very amusing that the ATO also gives ‘the advancement of education’ as another criterion for tax-free status. Really! Why then isn’t every teacher in the country paying less tax or none at all!
Contributing through taxes, while painful at times, is a basic tenet of democratic society. If 100% of income goes towards good works, then no tax is paid – it’s pretty simple.
Like Apple, Google, Pratt Holdings, McDonalds Asia Pacific and Hoyts, church groups are rorting the tax system while collecting property assets worth billions. Property owned by the church sits outside of the property tax system. Cardinal George Pell knows lots about God-gearing.
Yet religious groups, or schools flying a religious banner are at the very centre of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. These organisations pay no tax and hope that the government will fund any redress system for victims, a request the Government has rightly ignored.
Perhaps if the Catholic Church and all religious organisations paid their share of tax they may also find themselves adhering to the laws of state the rest of us follow for a safe, non-abused society. At the moment, the divide between church and state is not only robbing our country of tax dollars, but facilitating abuse and the misuse of power. It’s time to close the divide.
While being an atheist, this piece wasn’t written from an anti-religion platform, but from a nagging sense that those who facilitate the worst of crimes pay the least of tax.
This opinion piece first appeared in ‘Online Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate’ on 3/12/2015. The article on that site can be found HERE
As an Atheist I have no contact with God in any of his or her forms. Yet as an educated human I understand that some people need a belief system in their lives. While I may think that nearly all of these systems are devoid of common sense, some are more palatable than others. Islam, in its purest and most fundamental sense, isn’t one of them.
Now we don’t need to have immersed ourselves in the teachings of a particular religion to feel the ‘vibe’ of the religion. Our 21st century brains are very well trained at getting the gist of most things. From films to books to consumer products, we don’t need to be scholars to get our own personal perspective of things and religion is no exception.
The Hindu religion is fascinating and has some wonderfully colourful characters. When travelling in India or within Indian communities at home in Australia I’ve never felt threatened or insecure. Sure, there’s some scary Hindu Gods like Kali or Shiva who supposedly create havoc at times. Yet there’s also some very likeable ones like the protection deity Ganga, or my favourite – Ganesh – the Elephant deity of Arts and Sciences. None of these deities urge Hindus to kill.
I find the Buddhist faith equally as benign. Buddhists seem to laugh lots and experience their faith more inwardly. They don’t evangelise and they don’t make me feel threatened or insecure. However, I don’t like their orange robes much.
The Christian faith, with its often dour and humourless preaching does make me itch a bit. The churches are always dark and devoid of colour. There’s no orange and there’s no elephants. On visiting the Hillsong Church in north-western Sydney recently, I’ve come to believe that Christians are among the ones likely to form armies of blind faith to march against something or someone. That in itself is scary.
The Sharia difference
Yet the Muslim religion is different. Sharia law is the basic legal framework of the religion and the introduction of Sharia Law into western countries is a goal of Islamist movements around the world. By Islamist I mean fundamentalist – the most literal interpretation of the Koran.
Sharia, in its truest meaning it is a body of moral and religious law and deals with both state and personal issues. State issues could involve punishments like stoning and beheading while personal law could relate to hygiene, diet and sexuality. There are vast differences between Sharia Law and secular law and these differences are a point of conflict between progressive, moderate and fundamentalist Muslims world over. Fundamentalist Sharia however, is very scary.
Most Muslim countries only practice partial or ‘interpreted’ Sharia law meaning secular and Sharia Law work side by side without the extremes. Islamists – the fundamentalist kind, don’t represent most Muslims due to their extreme beliefs. We may like the oil that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia controls but don’t be fooled – they are equally as oppressive as Islamic State.
Yet our western understanding of Islam is predominantly based on our exposure to news reports about terrorism or crime. Islamic State related terrorism can occupy well over half of a media’s news space while the disproportionate involvement of middle-eastern men in Australian crime has featured heavily in local reports over the past decade. This is reality and reality hasn’t been kind to the Muslim faith in Australia.
Now some may feel I’m being unfair to say that men from middle-eastern backgrounds have a disproportionate involvement in Australian crime. In 2013, the then NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that the middle-eastern crime wave was getting ‘‘increasingly difficult to combat”. Middle-eastern involvement in Australia’s illicit drug trade is immense. The number of young men from middle-eastern backgrounds participating in gang rapes around the country is staggering. The crimes of Bilal and Mohammed Skaf and many more like them illustrate a hatred of western women that is hard to understand but clearly present.
Yet what frightens me more is the way women are treated in a strict, fundamentalist Muslim household. On a recent visit to the Sydney Suburb of Merrylands to check out a 2nd-hand lounge, I found myself in a Muslim household with six men and three women of mixed ages. It was around dinner time. I smiled and said hello to everyone yet the women weren’t allowed to speak to me. One woman tried to illustrate with hand movements how to get the lounge to recline yet was quickly ushered away by a man. It was not a comfortable environment and the muzzling of women is not something most Australians are used to.
The Burqa and Niqab
The Muslim religion is the only one where the more fundamentalist streams hide the eyes of women via the Burqa. Of course, more moderate Muslim women may wear the Al-Amira, the Hijab, the Shayla or the Chador- all head-wear that show the eyes and most of the face but still display respect for Muslim values. No problem there whatsoever.
Seeing the eyes and most of the face of another human is one way we, as human animals, measure our personal safety. The eyes show intent and without seeing it we can only guess at what that intent might be. Sure, we may be wrong at times, yet when a fast decision is needed, our initial gut-response is important.
In medieval times, knights hid their eyes behind metal gauze. The Klu Klux Clan hid their eyes and face and we mistrusted them implicitly with due cause. Perhaps if the balaclava was worn less in terrorism attacks and robberies we might trust the Burqa a little more. This is unlikely to happen.
The Burqa or the Niqab make our initial biological assessment of safety versus danger impossible. When facial visualisation cannot take place, assessing our relationship with that person becomes futile. It just makes matters worse if women can’t shake hands or speak. Women become chattels or objects devoid of a vital human and indeed natural attribute – communication.
Is this the way we want people to relate to one another in Australia? Is this how we want to see women regarded in this country?
While my left-wing sensibility tells me I ‘should’ tolerate this difference for the sake of diversity, my common sense and indeed biological need for a secure environment tells me this is not OK.
In an interview following the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015, the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed spoke all of his answers in Arabic. Is it too much to ask the leader of an Australian religious group to speak in English? Is it too much to ask anyone who elects to become a prominent and representative citizen of Australia to use English as their main mode of verbal communication?
Not embracing the transition from Arabic to English is another way that makes assessing ‘friend or foe’ impossible. If the dominant population of English speakers can’t understand what is being said by a group who are not just over-represented in crime statistics but solely represented in terrorism news, then our first response is to mistrust it. Is there a hidden intent? Is there something they don’t want me to hear? Are they mocking me?
For civil rights types and the Antifa brigade to express disgust at these defensive yet natural responses is to put an entirely non-human perspective on what is really a very human reaction. These are the types who if being chased by a lion, may first say “Oh, here comes a nice, friendly lion because really, some lions CAN be friendly”. They become lion food very quickly.
Open faces – open arms: The push for an Islamic Reformation
Now I understand fully that most people of the Islamic faith in Australia speak English and don’t wear the Burqa. Yet the minority are those with the greatest impact. They are the ones who stand out simply because we can’t possibly relate to them. They may be a regular ‘Aussie’ in lion’s clothing, but gee, we can’t be fully sure.
The Burqa must be prohibited in Australia. If we are to give a little by accepting those who need refuge, the Muslim faith must also give a little. Our society has open faces, not just open arms. While some may see a ban on the Burqa as an attack on Islam, clear thinkers see the reverse to be true – that wearing the Burqa is actually an attack on not just Australian values, but the rights of women. Women should not be muzzled or hidden in this country.
Perhaps what the Islamic faith needs is a reformation; a movement that will bring the outdated and stricter Sharia elements of Islamic belief into the 21st century; a New Testament Islam if you like. If Islamist men are too entrenched in inflexible doctrine to mount this reformation, it is the women who, like the feminists of the 1960’s, must take control and force a change that will benefit Muslims around the world.
The 1960’s feminist cry of ‘Burn the Bra’ could translate to ‘Burn the Burqa’ – the progressive Muslim women’s cry of the 21st century.
While it’s perhaps too much to expect women from Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan to forge a ‘New-Testament Islam, progressive Muslim women from Australia may be perfect to lead the way.
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.
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.
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.