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To Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Attorney General Australia

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 7:50 AM

***UPDATE - Sarah has made her letter into a petition to sign and share! You can co-sign Sarah's letter by clicking here***


Below is a very moving letter written by Sarah Langston in light of the recent information released around the murder and rape of Jill Meagher. Sarah provides us with the voice of just one of the many women struggling to come to terms with this horrific crime. Please leave a message in the comments if you would like to show your support.


***TRIGGER WARNING - CONTAINS POTENTIAL TRIGGERS FOR VICTIMS OF VIOLENT CRIME/RAPE***


To Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Attorney General Australia 

I write to you in response to the appalling information released today regarding Adrian Bayley's prior offences before he raped and killed Jill Meagher last year.

 

 

According to information detailed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation today, Bayley's criminal history consisted of a lifetime of atrocities against women beginning from the age of 19, with a horrifying slew of sex-crimes marking his life to date.

 

 

Previous to Jill Meagher, these include sex crimes such as the rape of a teenage backpacker and the imprisonment of women in his car while he repeatedly raped them. These, I wager, are just the crimes we know about since rape is under-reported. According to the Crime Victimisation Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics from 2009-2010, only 36.6% of most recent incidents of sexual assault were reported to police. And given Bayley's egregious propensity to rape women, I would not be surprised if he has created victims below the radar.

 

 

And how has the judicial system responded to his repeated violations of women in the Australian community? With great leniency.

 

 

Given that rape is a horrendous act that erodes the very sense of safety, dignity, selfhood and freedom that we all need to operate as whole human beings, you would think our judicial system would come out swinging. You would think that it would recognise the deep loss, the scars and the ghosts that haunt survivors of rape. You would think it would see the lifetime of damage, the screaming nightmares, the injuries to intimacy and self esteem and work and family.

 

 

You would think it would know better than to believe that men like Adrian Bayley can be rehabilitated. Described as clever, manipulative and able to fake his way through a sex offenders program, Bayley is evidence that rapists cannot be rehabilitated.

 

 

You would think. Instead, Adrian Bayley served only eight years for the repeated rapes of women in our community and was out on parole when he raped and murdered the clever, beautiful, loved Jill Meagher in an alleyway. Because he was on parole, because the judicial system believed he had a right to freedom, Jill Meagher lost her right to breathe. And now, her family have lost a daughter and a wife and a sister.

 

 

As a teacher and as a woman who wishes to have children, I demand a future with stronger sentencing for rape. The girls in my care deserve a society that is safer for them. But first, I demand a society from you and the judicial system that is safer for me.

 

 

Last year while walking in the early evening, I was violently assaulted by an unknown man on Sydney's streets. Though I now live to write this to you, it may not have ended that way. As I read the details of Jill Meagher's case I am beset by a deep despair that burrows in and doesn't go away. I am sure countless other women who have been assaulted, raped, or violently attacked by men feel the same prickling on the back of their neck.

 

 

There are too many of us. We have a right to safety and it is your responsibility to engineer sentencing that reflects that right. When we have sentencing that allows a man like Bayley to walk free, we have sentencing that is broken.

 

 

I require you to fix what is broken – for myself, and the girls I teach every day.

 

 

Sarah Langston.

 

Co-signed by Jo MacDonald, Imanadari Counselling.

Categories: Activism, Politics

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12 Comments

Reply ★ Owner
8:04 AM on June 11, 2013 
First comment of support in what I hope will be a long line of many. This crime has impacted so many people in so many ways. I am glad to see you taking action and using your emotions around this to create a positive change in the world. You have a such a powerful voice, I am glad it is being used to speak up about issues like this one. Nina
Reply Cassie
8:23 AM on June 11, 2013 
What horrifies me about this case is that judge in Bayley's 2002 case had the option to take into account his prior convictions and give him a sentence above the maximum. That judge chose not to.

I have no words for how utterly the judicial system has failed Jill Meagher and all Australians.
Reply Eliza
5:34 PM on June 11, 2013 
Definitely adding my support. So well written, about an issue that clearly affects everyone, but change is still not occurring.
Reply Annette
5:36 PM on June 11, 2013 
I have three daughters. I can't even put into words how disgusted I was to hear this news. What an utter failure of the justice system.
Reply @ABeautifulMind1
5:41 PM on June 11, 2013 
Yes, I agree. Such a tragic loss of life. And a short sentence for him has only served to inflict *life* sentences on many more. Being raped is not a sentence you get to 'complete'.
Reply annie
7:14 AM on June 12, 2013 
Thankyou for sharing Sarah,
This insanity needs to stop.
Your letter speaks the "truth"... I pray that our system will be fixed. I believe through people like you we are on our way.
Reply Jarrah
8:06 AM on June 12, 2013 
Thanks for having the courage to demand the security and protection that the state must provide. This judicial response makes it little wonder that underreporting of sexual assault and rape is so widespread. It's hard to be the one who makes the demand, but it benefits everyone who rejects a society where the courts and government leave women under this kind of threat. It's appreciated and admired.
Reply joanne
8:10 AM on June 12, 2013 
Use the getup! Platform to promote this, I'll sign it
http://www.communityrun.org/#
Reply Andrew McNicol
4:41 PM on June 12, 2013 
Thank you for writing this. I admire your courage for speaking out when, lately, anything on the news relating to gender, sexuality or violence can easily make us want to switch off and curl into a ball and pretend it just isn't happening.

I hadn't been reading about this current case (was not in the right head space this week) so I didn't know many of the details apart from what you had written and what my partner had told me. Reading about it now, I'm disgusted that the many signs that this may not be a person who has been reformed went ignored.

Everything about this case is awful. There was no justice both before and after Bayley's most recent attack.

It shouldn't have taken such a high-profile case for the government to realise there was something wrong with this system.
Reply ★ Owner
8:53 PM on June 12, 2013 
Reposted from the ImanadariC twitter account:

From Stefjlaw: I would like to thank Sarah for her letter, her courage and contribution to change. X
Reply ★ Owner
8:54 PM on June 12, 2013 
Reposted from the ImanadariC twitter account:

From oh_pies: Honestly don't have words for how broken this system is. Thankyou, Sarah, for speaking out. People need to do something.
Reply Sharri
11:03 AM on June 13, 2013 
Dear Sarah,

Thank you so much for having the courage to speak out. For Jill, for you, for us that couldn't, for us that had and wish they hadn't, for those that hadn't and wish they could, and perhaps most importantly those that haven't had to even worry about it.

Jill should have been able to walk 800m home on any given night. Safely and into the arms of her family. What happened to her resonates in a despairing way for me. As a mother, as a woman and as a person.

The fact that he should never been on the streets and just how many serious offenders are breaking their parole in Victoria alone scares me to the core.

How can we have this so wrong? I want to be the one that walks freely. I want my children to walk freely.

Sarah, I'm so sorry what happened to you. I don't know you. It breaks my heart what happened. I don't understand, but I know. I admire everything you have done with this letter and you have inspired me to to write the letter I've always wanted to write.

Enough is enough. And it stops with me!