Is Gender Off The Table for New Zealand When It Comes To Sex Crimes With The Young?

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Is Gender Off The Table for New Zealand When It Comes To Sex Crimes With The Young?
By Peter Hoo

November 27, 2015


This item wants to draw the reader's attention to a court decision in New Zealand. The NZ Herald offered today[1] a story of a female teacher being found guilty of sex with a boy from the age of 10 years of age. He is now a teenager and it would be safe to say he feels differently about his relationship with the teacher now than he did when aged 10.


A great deal can be, and perhaps should be said with news of this court finding. First, it is possibly a good thing that in this case gender was seen as having no role to play in finding this adult guilty; usually it does and women gain much less punitive legal outcomes than males for similar criminal acts. I say possibly because objectively speaking I would argue we should be putting less people inside prisons for sex with the young than we currently do. It is my reading of some people's views that women have been getting off light – men being hit hard for sex with those underage; and women not. But does that call to "level things up" really mean things get better? I am not that sure this is true – time will tell.


Second it shows our laws on rape need to be changed/overhauled - currently a woman can't be charged with rape (this point of women being excluded as able to be charged with rape was made in the article). The teacher in this case was charged with sexual violation and that charge brings with it similar legal punishments as a charge for rape. However, I am going to argue there is a language game going on here that matters. The term rape has been crafted as a male crime – something men do to women and other males. I think there is an ideological bias here that I want challenged. It isn't valid to argue men bad; women good. So I want rape to stay as a term denoting bad and unethical conduct, I just want the person who acts as a rapist viewed as potentially male or female.


Third, and this point is complex, the case clearly involves a process of change that has been commented on elsewhere - that 95% of sexual contacts between adults and children aged under 12 are situations where trauma does not happen at the time sexual contact occurs; trauma is experienced when the young person comes to appreciate society's views and punishment directed at a person involved in such exchanges. This third point suggests we, as a society, can reduce that trauma by changing the way we act. There is a lot that can be discussed following the outcome of this court case.


If this statistic of 95% interests you, then read Susan Clancy's book The Trauma Myth. It is from this text that this statistic is pulled.


Details

Clancy, S. A. (2009). The trauma myth and the truth about the sexual abuse of children - and its aftermath. New York: Basic Books.


Weekes, J. (2015, 27/11). Female teacher jailed for 10 years for sexually violating boy [Online News Item]. New Zealand Herald (New Zealand).

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