Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

THE INCREDIBLE WOMAN

The Age Newspaper

March 2002

Despite accepting that conviction rates are down and sexual abuse was 'shamefully under acknowledged in the past', Bettina Arndt (Age Tuesday March 19) still believes anti-male crusaders armed with wild accusations of child sexual assault are driving innocent men to suicide and turning the criminal justice system into a bastion of discrimination against blokes. Can it be true? Or is the history of rape and sexual assault one of the great-untold stories?

While writing a book about the 1987 murder of my sister I've pored over pages of court transcripts. The killer, Peter Keogh, and his mates, emerge as a brazen subset within a culture that, as Bettina Arndt and Bishop Hollingworth bear testimony, continues to blame girls for sexual assault and treat their stories as incredible.

Keogh and 'the boys' always believed they could beat sexual assault. When one of his sidekicks raped a girl in a Holden out back of Broadmeadows in 1966 the driver was unmoved by her girlfriend's threats. 'The police? Forget it. We've done this before and never been caught,' he laughed.

Needless to say, the girls were hysterical by the time they reached the safety of a local house. The rapist was found 'guilty with mitigating circumstances' and received 12 months gaol. A brutal rape certified with a barbaric verdict and a sentence that reinforced the moral and physical dominance of men on the streets and confirmed that women were not to be believed. Unless a woman was bashed within an inch of her life that was the rule not the exception.

After another mob of blokes known to Keogh raped a 15-year-old virgin in Fairfield in 1959, barrister Frank Galbally asked whether the girl wore lipstick and makeup on the night of the rape. That she didn't scream when the boys frog marched her down the lane, went to the pictures two days later and associated with girls who used the word 'c---', was offered by other lawyers as reason to conclude there was no rape.

Even after the guilty verdict the judge suggested the girl had tempted the boys by being out after dark. Is it any wonder women have fought to change rape laws, and girls are reluctant to report rape?

In 1974, at age 26, Keogh was charged with raping a neighbour's nine-year-old daughter in his house. Stripped naked and told her face would be 'bashed inside out' if she screamed, the girl was catatonic when her mother found her. Although Keogh's parole officer was convinced of his guilt, she captured the mood of the times and the tenor of Arndt's views when she described the girl as precocious.

Despite her mother telling the court her daughter suffered nightmares, and without a word of corroboration from a professional, Judge Rapke said he was thankful the girl had been spared any deep emotional scars. Is this what Bettina Arndt means when she suggests rape isn't violent and asserts most children carry no long-term damage from sexual assault? And was the 15 months gaol sentence Keogh received for this offence an example of a draconian penalty?

 

Instead of exploring how the criminal justice system has conspired against the reporting of sexual assault, Arndt ridicules those who make such claims as hysterical, mad or anti male. Then, with breathtaking logic she says men who suicide after being accused of sexual assault are the innocent victims of wilful females. It's exactly what Peter Keogh said after he survived an overdose when facing court over the rape of the little girl. His parole officer described it as sympathy-seeking!

There are less gang rapes making their way to the court these days. The official explanation is that despite convictions being down men now know they can't get away with what Keogh's mates once did. Maybe that explains the prevalence of the date rape drug.

Bettina Arndt's offerings are dangerous because they belittle the modest progress made in the realm of sexual assault. Although the words 'girl' and 'woman' are absent from Arndt's article, as always, its females she is blaming and men she is defending. It seems that anyone who 'cries rape' or criticizes some pompous insensitive judge, is an anti-male crusader or panic-stricken moral puritan from downtown Salem.

Blaming feminists for the bigotry of Senator Bill Heffernan is laughable. Heffernan's attack on Justice Kirby is rooted in homophobia and the tribal politics of the major parties. Neither he nor John Howard has ever been on the side of those women who've fought to free the criminal justice system from testosterone-laden barristers and compliant patriarchal judges.

Of course females can lie, and disturbed people can imagine sexual assault where there is none. But is this reason enough to risk resurrecting the old myths that rape isn't really violent, sexual assault doesn't really happen and women are not to be believed?

As the girl in the Holden said when raped by the boy, 'Oh dear God, no.'


Phil Cleary

 

Dear Phil,


Thank you for a spirited and informed reply to the rubbish written by Bettina Arndt re rape. Her views are indeed damaging, as they let male aggressors off the hook and suggest the age old 'woman as temptress' escape from responsibility................Judy

 

Thank you for your response to that dreadful and biased, not to mention
confused Bettina Arndt. I could not say i enjoyed your article given the
content, but i did think you were accurate.

 

Dear Phil

Thanks for your response to Bettina. It is such a relief that your ideas are
given the space they deserve.

Your comment is very powerful. Arguments backed up by odious and painful
examples from your experience. It is made more powerful by your speaking
position. By writing you confound simplistic notions of how men and women are supposed to behave. So few men have a public voice on sexual assault.

Bettina is truly a scary woman. Her self oppressive, reactionary and hostile
writing is destructive. Thank you for countering this.

Regards,

 

Dear Phil

Thank you for your article in today's 'Age'. I was a victim of child sexual abuse and was horrified to read Arndt's article - particularly her quoting research that showed no long term damage from sexual assault - what possible criteria could have been used to arrive at such a conclusion? - it beggars comprehension. Please keep speaking out. I know of so many lives damaged by abuse/assault and you speak for all of us.

With thanks,

 

Dear Mr Cleary,

I found your article in response to Bettina Arndt a little
emotionally-driven.

Certainly she said provoking things, but some of her factual information is
indeed shocking - it is of great concern that our professionals routinely
and grossly overestimate, for example, the extent of abuse by fathers.

There are indeed many victims of sexual abuse, but the forgotten victims are
just as serious - the falsely accused men who lose their children, freedom
and lives, let alone the general suspicion surrounding fathers, resting on
proven false pretexts.

All the best,

Robert

 

Phil

Thank you for another stirring articles concerning the unjustice of the way women and girls are perceived regarding sexual assault. I commend your willingness and courage in speaking out.

I was once a prosecution witness in a case of sexual assault against a number of teenage girls. It was sad revelation to see the way the court system works.

The initial commital was personally traumatic as I watched one victim after another be put through the most savage questioning whilst the perpetrator looked on (almost as if still getting some perverted kick from hearing the retelling of his offences). To me it was as though they were being abused once again -- but this time publicly.

Then after the commital we had one adjournment after another and it was nearly two years before it went to court. The tactic is clearly to wear the victims down so they will withdaw the charges. Not because the offences did not happen but because the mind games just get too much.

I realise now that he court system has little to do with justice and much to do with playing the system and the purchase of a lawyer who puts to one side his concept of right and wrong simply so that he can get his client off -- no matter how shocking his crime has been.


Thank you for keeping this issue before the public.


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