The exoneration of Christian Porter by our Prime Minister sends a dangerous message, one that sets women's rights backward in our country, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.
*CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape
PRIME MINISTER Scott Morrison declared that he considers alleged rapist and federal Attorney-General Christian Porter to be “an innocent man under our law”.
Christian Porter has not undergone any investigation under “our law”. Police have never interviewed him. By no stretch of the imagination can Morrison claim the Attorney-General has been found to be an “innocent man” under “our law” when the senior law maker has not engaged with the law at all on the matter of his alleged anal rape of Kate in 1988.
NSW Police found that there was insufficient admissible evidence to pursue the case against Porter. That is, please note, admissible evidence.
Morrison claims he has not read the alleged victim’s statement. He does not know what Porter is alleged to have done, outside of a “briefing” from his staff. He claims he did not read the statement because he was not in the same place as the statement. Yes. You read that correctly. He did not read the statement because it was not in the same place as him.
Morrison has also refused to seek advice from the Federal Solicitor General on the Porter matter, despite this being the obvious next step for a Prime Minister confronted with a situation such as this one.
Indeed, it appears Morrison has taken no legal advice at all (that he is willing to reveal) on how he should proceed with an allegation of violent anal rape made against his Attorney-General by a woman who took her own life. Morrison appears to be relying solely on Porter’s claim that “it never happened”.
Now, today, despite his wilful ignorance of the allegations, despite having sought no legal advice, he has declared Porter to be “an innocent man”, presumably because Porter says “it didn’t happen”. I can find no other explanation for the Prime Minister arriving at this conclusion.
What does this say to women in Australia?
- It says if we don’t get a complaint of rape or sexual assault to court, and the majority of us do not, the alleged rapist is an “innocent man”.
- It says that men who rape us will be perfectly safe if we die during the act or subsequent to it.
- It says that Porter’s alleged victim, Kate, must have been lying or mad.
- It says that any woman who is unable to get a case to court is lying.
- It says that men, following the example set by the Prime Minister of this country, do not need to bother acquainting themselves with our stories before they decide the alleged perpetrator is “innocent”.
- It says that Scott Morrison has set women back decades with his “exoneration” of an alleged rapist, based on nothing more than the alleged rapist’s denial.
- It says that if Morrison exonerates Porter, he exonerates every alleged rapist who is not dealt with by the courts.
- It says that everything just got a whole lot more difficult and traumatic for women attempting to find justice after being raped or sexually assaulted.
- It tells rapists, all you have to do is say “it never happened”.
- It says, women, everything is stacked against you getting the criminal offence against you to court and if you don’t, as most of us won’t, you’re a liar and your attacker is an “innocent man according to our law”.
It says, we should be very afraid of where Morrison is going with this and note carefully who supports him.
If you would like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Dr Jennifer Wilson is an IA columnist, a psychotherapist and an academic. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.
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