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This week Australians all took a deep breath in unison and read the news no one was prepared to see, a decision that is more fitting for a Hollywood drama then for real life, a decision that has left survivors reeling and parents holding their children a bit tighter than usual.

The seven judges of the high court have handed down what might be one of the most controversial decisions Australia has ever witnessed. Their decision, convicted and jailed child molester George Pell is to be released and all convictions dismissed, finishing off a series of events that started fifty years ago.

It is every parent’s worst nightmare, a predator walking the streets ready to prey on your child, made even worse by the fact that the alleged perpetrator is a Cardinal, a high-ranking priest in the Catholic Church, elected by the Pope himself.

The Cardinal in question is the soon to be infamous Cardinal George Pell, aged 78, who was accused of molesting two choir boys in 1996 whilst he was appointed as Archbishop of Melbourne.

The crime allegedly took place as Pell found the boys drinking wine in the church, innocently playing around after mass. The account of the Cardinal looming over them before he attacked the boys and forced them to perform oral sex on him is nothing short of an act of evil and that of nightmares.
The rapes and molestation allegedly occurred in the St Patrick’s Cathedral, located in East Melbourne, and is one accusation amongst many made against Pell, numerous of which stem from his time as a younger priest in the small Victorian town of Ballarat in the 1970s.
Of the two choir boys involved in the accusations from 1996, only one survives, one dying of a heroin overdose in 2014 and refusing the abuse allegations up until his death. In the same year the Victorian Government created a task force dedicated to investigating the handling of child abuse cases by ‘Religious And Other Non-Government Organisations’.

In 2015 the surviving choir boy broke his silence, letting go of the secret he had carried for nearly two decades. One can only imagine the weight this man had carried into adulthood, scared of judgement and sharing his secret with the world, all to not be believed.

Three years later in December of 2018 Pell, who had pled not guilty, was found to be guilty of the accusations against him in the Melbourne case of the choir boys, charged with five sex abuse convictions in total.

Since then the Cardinal’s lawyers have faced the high court, arguing that the court failed to adequately take evidence supporting Pell’s innocence into consideration.

On April 7th 2020, after spending just a mere 400 days in prison, Pell has been set free, just in time to spend Easter in the free world.

Amongst the turmoil the world is facing at the moment, yesterday’s news from the high court has left Australia in shock, with the question on everybody lips the same; how?

If a high-profile case can have the ending that Pell’s has, then what chance do the everyday equivalents have. The George Pell’s who hide in our local shadows, in our schools, our churches, our family trees.

The #Metoo movement has given survivors of sexual assault worldwide a group consciousness, hope that if we just stand up we must be believed, that the reason why these monsters have been allowed to walk our streets is a mistake, that if their crimes had been reported they would be locked away.The man who killed Sunshine coast boy Daniel Morcombe in 2003, Brett Peter Cowan, had viciously assaulted seven year old boy Timothy Nicholls in 1987. Cowan served a little over half of his sentence of two years for the brutal rape of Timothy, before being released and eventually finding his way to that bus stop next to Daniel in 2003.

Daniel’s parents must stare at their ceiling at night wondering what if, what if he had served his full sentence, what if he had been sentenced to life, what if, what if, what if.

The pain of all survivors, of the choir boy, Timothy Nicholls, of all people who have been affected by child abuse, who have been brave enough to speak up, for their abuser to be able to walk free is a pain that is immeasurable, leaving a community once hopeful for change and justice, vulnerable and disappointed.

If we didn’t believe the choir boy, then who has a chance?

 

 

 

 

 

Women have always been pioneers in the gender equality debate… until now. Parent change rooms are legally open to any caregiver of a young child, regardless of sex. Now, fathers like Ben find themselves on the receiving end of parental discrimination.

Men across Australia have begun expressing a sense of fear and unwelcomeness as a result of incidents of discrimination against fathers in parent change rooms.

Awareness of the issue gained public knowledge after a Queensland father recounted his experience on a Sunshine Coast-based Facebook page which cannot be named.

“She said ‘It’s only for mothers in here! Get out of here, you sicko!’ and said she would call security and say I was staring at her naked kids if I didn’t leave the room”, the father said.

Men have taken to social media to communicate their disaffection with the continuing problem.

“I’ve had security called on me for taking my daughter into a parents’ room to change her nappy. Security basically told her to pull her head in as I was clearly changing a baby.” – Ben

“A lady asked me why I couldn’t be changing my son’s nappy in the men’s restrooms. My response to her was that I would if she went and fed her baby in the women’s restrooms.” – Mark

“My hubby’s been given death stares while in the parent’s room changing our daughters’ nappies with me. He changes nappies at home and wherever they need to be changed. He’ll change them in the parents’ room too…” – Sandra

“Dads, granddads, uncles … any caregiver who is looking after a child and needs to take care of a child and use those facilities that are offered in a public setting have access to these types of facilities”, says William Barsby, Shine Lawyers discrimination law expert.

An immense amount of support for fathers and male caregivers has surfaced in light of these events. Dads need support just as much as mums do and excluding fathers from parent change room, which are intended for use by a caregiver of any sex, is against anti-discrimination law.

Gay sex and adultery will now be punishable with death after strict new Islamic laws came into effect in Brunei on Wednesday.

Brunei has brought in strict new Islamic laws that make it not only illegal for consenting males to engage in gay sex, but punishable by stoning to death. The news has resulted in fierce global outrage.

In 2014, Brunei became the first nation in Southeast Asia to enact ‘Syariah Law’, a restrictive form of Islamic law that aims to deter acts that are against the teachings of Islam. The legislation was rolled out in three stages, with the final measures being brought into place on Wednesday, 3 April 2019.

Under the new reforms, sex between two men and adultery is punishable by stoning to death. Sex between two women carries a punishment of 100 lashes, while dressing as someone of a different gender will result in imprisonment. Further penalties include amputation of limbs for those accused of theft and public flogging as a punishment for abortion.

The nation’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is one of the wealthiest men in the world and is the head of the Brunei Investment Agency, who owns the Dorchester Collection – operator of the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA as well as many other top hotels worldwide.

The nation’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is one of the wealthiest men in the world and is the head of the Brunei Investment Agency, who owns the Dorchester Collection – operator of the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA as well as many other top hotels worldwide.

On Wednesday, the Sultan said, “I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger.” The law will mostly apply to Muslims, who make up about two-thirds of the population, but some aspects will also apply to non-Muslims.

The news has been met with international condemnation from human rights organisations, LGBTI groups and celebrities. TV show host and LGBTI activist, Ellen de Generes is encouraging her Facebook fans to boycott the Sultan’s hotels, saying “we need to do something now.”

The United Nations has labelled the new laws “cruel and inhumane”, and the Australian foreign ministry has called on Brunei to do away with the measures.

Despite the international outcry against the archaic and cruel new laws, the Sultan shows no signs of backing down, issuing a statement at the weekend saying that Brunei “enforces its own rule of law.”