PLEASE DON’T READ THIS IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ABOUT RAPE OR ASSAULT.
It feels like everyone I know, in New Zealand and to some extent further abroad, is talking about the Roast Busters right now. Briefly—and seriously, if you can’t read about rape, or rape culture, or rape apologia, then please skip the rest of this post—these guys up in Auckland have been feeding alcohol to young girls, some of them underage, at parties, and then sexually assaulting them. And then bragging about it on Facebook, with, apparently, the full knowledge of police. For TWO YEARS. Oh, and one of these kids is the son of a cop, but apparently that has nothing to do with anything.
Yesterday there was an abhorrent radio interview in which the presenters called rape ‘mischief’ and inferred that rape isn’t rape if the perpetrators are handsome or popular, or if they have had some consensual sex. They asked if anyone was forcing these young girls to drink, and asked the subject of the interview, a friend of one of the victims, about how old she was when she lost her virginity. Also, there was a segment on the news that featured severalclassmates of the Roast Busters said this sort of behaviour is normal for West Auckland and that they were ‘being teenagers.’ Mischievous, mischievous teenagers! Totally normal!
[Okay, I started writing this last night around 5:30 in the evening on Wednesday. It’s now 3 pm on Thursday, and more information had come to light since, like, last night.]
Originally the cops said they couldn’t do anything since none of the girls had been ‘brave enough’ to come forward with a formal complaint. Last night we found out that a girl, who was thirteen at the time, had come forward two years ago and been made to re-enact the assault. This morning we woke up to find that there have been, so far, a total of four complaints over the past two years, made by girls who were between the ages of thirteen and fifteen at the time of the complaints; I’m currently trying to learn what the standard for bringing a prosecution is in a case like this. The handling of the case by police, however, is going to be sent to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, and there seems to be a lot of confusion between the various police commissioners and politicians about who knew what when, in terms of the complaints, etc. I guess they’re questioning the guys involved, too, and now there’s a search warrant? It’s hard to keep up.
My friend came over for dinner last night and when he rang the doorbell I was raring to go. “Did YOU HEAR” I yelled, and he assured me he had. I made a stew with black beans and pumpkins and frozen corn, losing my mind as I chopped and stirred. “Of course it’s only rape if you’re a virgin,” I sneered.
“If you’ve had consensual sex with one girl, that means you cannot rape another girl because of that one time you got consent,” he replied. “You know, like, ‘I didn’t kill all those other people, so this one person who is dead because I shot them isn’t murder.’” There was a lot of rage and anger and pain on my Twitter and Facebook; several people opted out of the internet altogether that night to protect themselves.
I thought again about everyone I know—there are so many–who has been through rape, most of whom did not go to the police because they either did not think they would be believed or they knew they would be retraumatised. I thought about what would happen to me if someone decides to rape me one day, if I become one of the one in six. I thought about rape culture, and what we can do, and what we can’t do. (It feels like there’s nothing we can do. It feels like there will never be anything we can do).
After I’d shouted and stomped for a while and finally finished my stew, I plumped down on the couch. Worn out all of a sudden. Wrung out. My friend was already sitting there.
“I’m sad,” he said.
“Why? Because of the world, or because of your place in it?”
“Bit of both.”
Me too. The world, and my place in it. Sorrow filling in and flowing out, over my place in the world, over so many places in the world.