|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.
Co-signed by Jo MacDonald, Imanadari Counselling.