Equal treatment of the sexes
By Antoinette Connell | Tue, April 17, 2012 - 12:00 AM
The teenager had been abused from young. Ejected from home at an early age because of circumstances rather than any wrongdoing, the youth took to rummaging through garbage for survival.
It was at that point a man swooped down on his prey, offering the teen money and occasional shelter for sexual favours. With no place left to turn, an unhealthy relationship developed between the juvenile and the man, 35 years older. Drugs were also thrown into the already toxic mix.
But there was a restlessness within the teenager who, though desperate, knew enough to understand that what was taking place was not right. Still, self-preservation was stronger than doing the “right thing” and for a while the sordid relationship persisted.
There were times when the teenager attempted to reform and voluntarily checked into rehab, but the older man was always there, seeking out the young mind at the rehab centre and enticing it back to the familiar. The teen even attempted other relationships with those closer in age but the older man always managed to interfere and so none of them blossomed.
One day, as the man was guiding the reluctant teenager towards the bedroom, something snapped. Tired of the frequent trysts, the young one slipped a knife into the bedroom and inflicted a single wound on the older man. Instantly, a wave of regret overcame the teenager who tried to rush the injured man to the hospital but he died.
The teenager, by now legally an adult, was charged with the death.
There are certain cases which I’ve covered during my career that haunt me from time to time. Sometimes the haunting is seasonal, this time it was triggered.
One trigger was the marking of the third anniversary of the SAVE Foundation led by Leisel Daisley, whose major cause is to free those caught in the cycle of domestic violence while eradicating it.
It is a most admirable endeavour once it considers both the males and females trapped in this cycle.
Then there was the media event by the Men’s Educational Support Association with prominent member Ralph Boyce appealing for fair treatment of men. He is constantly preaching for a more nurturing approach from embattled mothers to the relationship between father and child.
He tirelessly campaigns for the court to apply the same treatment that mothers receive to fathers and it is no secret that he believes some laws are skewed in favour of women. I believe there is some validity in his claims about the way the society responds to females versus males.
To conclude my initial story, the teenager didn’t go to trial but acknowledged the wrong done and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. This particular incident stood out with me because the older man had been preying on a teenage boy. A few of the jurors on hand during the sentencing shed a tear when they heard the horrible circumstances of the young man who ended up serving about five years for the crime.
I make bold to say that had it been a teenage girl under the thumb of a man, the outcry would have been swift and loud.
Women often go to court and cry abuse in matters where lives have been taken. There’s noticeable public sympathy, a rallying cry to stop the abuse and, oftentimes, little or no incarceration apart from the time spent on remand awaiting trial.
The henpecked male who snaps hardly ever can compete with the damsel in distress card.
I do not advocate men abusing women and neither do I condone women abusing men. I do not believe, like other women, that from the very first time a man raises his hand towards a woman he should be dead because I would have to say the same should apply if a woman raises her hand to a man. Life is too precious to be ended with such callous indifference.
The approach must be evenhanded for both sexes when the circumstances are the same.
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