The police have been telling us that they can’t proceed against the Roast Busters gang because they lacked evidence and formal complaints. If only women would come forward, then they could take action against the Roast Busters gang. But they were constrained because no young woman was brave enough to come forward. When questioned, police said that they had received no formal complaints.
It turns out that FOUR! young women have come forward with formal complaints. And police did nothing. They allowed the young men to continue raping girls.
Police have confirmed they received four complaints by alleged victims of the Roast Busters group of young men, between 2011 and last year.
Until last night, police had said they had been unable to bring prosecutions against the young men because they were yet to receive a formal complaint by any victims.
Police had been monitoring the group for the last two years, who bragged online they would ply girls – some as young as 13 – with alcohol and have sex with them.
Their activities came to light this week with media reports, and the Facebook page they boasted on was shut down.
Police have now said four young women aged between 13 and 15 had come forward with complaints of a sexual nature.
There’s so much that’s wrong with what the police have failed to do in this awful case, from victim blaming, to pretending that they could do nothing, to outright lying.
And the message they are sending us? Women don’t matter.
This is deeply worrying. Our police force is an important institution in our society. We give up the right to pursue retribution and recompense ourselves, and hand it over to police, so that they will protect us. We have a contract with them, that saves us from a solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and short life in the state of nature. They will act as an impartial group helping to ensure that strong people don’t prey on the weak, that each person is tolerably safe as she or he goes about their daily business, that each of us can live securely, without needing to shelter behind guns and hard fists and high fences. We live in freedom, as free citizens, because we know that our police pursue justice on our behalf, and work hard to keep us safe.
Not any more.
The loud, clear message that police have sent in the last few days in their words, and over the last two years in their actions, is that women don’t count. They count so little that even there is clear evidence of criminal activity, of young men who are over the age of consent “having sex with” girls who are well under the age of consent, they will take no action. Even worse than just taking no action, they will actively choose not to take action and leave even more young women to be raped.
The problem is large. This is not just one incident, not just one police station that has gone a little rogue. It seems to be systemic. We know this from the extraordinary difficulty that Louise Nicholas experienced in getting any kind of justice when she had been raped by police officers, and we know this from Dame Margaret Bazley’s Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, and we know this from the repeated reports from the Auditor-General finding that the progress of police in effecting culture change is slow (one, two, three). Slow beyond all reason.
Very simply, as far as the police are concerned, it seems that women don’t count. Women are not citizens in this country.
That gives us all reason to fear. As women, what the police are telling, through their actions and their inactions, is that we ought not to bother complaining to them if we are raped or sexually assaulted. Because we don’t count.
And through all this, we must remember the young women who have been targetted and raped by this loathsome group of young men in Auckland. They have been assaulted again and again. First by the young men. Second by the police, who would not hear their complaints. Third by the knowledge that their complaints mattered so little, that police would not even take action to stop the young men from raping, even if they weren’t going to prosecute them. And fourth by the systemic injustice of police towards women, telling women that they don’t count.
So what can we do? First, to the young women who laid police complaints: may you find justice. We believe you.
Second, Scuba Nurse has some excellent suggestions about what action we can take, ranging from the small gesture of not participating in rape jokes, to donating to Rape Crisis.
Third, change the way we rear boys. Luddite Journo has some suggestions, in Growing boys, not roast busters.
Fourth, a series of protests is being planned around the country. Keep your eye out on social media for details of rallies planned for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on the afternoon of 16 November.
Fifth, look after yourselves. Here are some suggestions from The Wireless: A really heavy week on the internet.