I’ve written a number of articles about the way the media and police respond to male violence against women. Too many articles. Too many cases of media and police questioning the behaviour of victims, implicitly or explicitly blaming women for the violence done to them, failing to mention the actions of the perpetrators, or humanising them to the point that it looks like sympathy. It’s sickening, enraging and dangerous.
There are times however, when police not only get it right, they get it SO right. They push back against the public and the media, and slam some truth down for everyone to see.
I’m not going to say much about the crime itself. The victim is only 14 years old, what was done to her was unspeakably evil, and our hearts break for her. Neither she nor her family should be subjected to media commentators rehashing the details.
But anyone who has actively participated in blaming that poor child for the horrific things that were done to her should take note of what Detective Senior Sergeant Jason Walsh, from Victoria Police’s Sexual Crime Squad had to say, as reported in The Age
One of Victoria’s top sexual assault detectives says he is “amazed” that people have questioned the behaviour of a 14-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by a group of drunken men on the weekend.
Detective Senior Sergeant Jason Walsh, from Victoria Police’s Sexual Crime Squad, told Raf Epstein on ABC 774 on Wednesday afternoon that the assault against the girl had been at the violent end of the scale.
“The actual sexual assault, Raf, is of an extremely serious nature and police are very concerned about the allegations and very keen to speak to these four males.”
Epstein read text messages from two ABC callers who questioned why the girl was in a park at 4am.
But Detective Walsh said that was the wrong question.
“I find it amazing, without getting into politics that we question girls and we question their behaviour when we don’t even ask, ‘what’s four blokes out doing, allegedly sexually assaulting a young girl?’
“You know, that’s my take on that sort of question, and I’ve been in this sexual assault field for many years, and I find it amazing that people straight away question females for their actions, and they’re not questioning the males. I mean, what are four males doing allegedly sexually assaulting a young girl? That’s a question I’d ask.”
Thank you Jason Walsh.
Thank you for defending that poor girl, who has surely suffered far too much already, from the sanctimonious judgements of the ignorant.
Thank you for saying, with the authority of a senior position in Victoria Police’s Sexual Crime Squad, that suggesting a victim has any responsibility for violence enacted against her is unutterably wrong.
Thank you for reiterating that the only people who carry responsibility for violence are the perpetrators.
Thank you for refusing to perpetuate the myth that women can protect themselves from violence by staying home.
As I have written before, telling women that they are putting themselves at risk by being in public places is not only abhorrent, it displays a breathtaking ignorance about where women are most at risk of violence. Which is in their homes, not on the streets.
Many of the people who have suggested that the girl “shouldn’t have been out” would be the same people who say, when police do tell women to take responsibility for the actions of violent men, that we should listen to police, they’re on the frontline and they know what they’re talking about.
In this case, they would be correct. Walsh is on the front line, he does know what he is talking about and he is telling everyone, with crystal clear directness that the only question anyone should ask about this horrific crime is what are four men doing allegedly sexually assaulting a young girl?
There is nothing else to ask.