The Northern Territory news Mon 16 Mar 2020
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin
News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
06 LET HER SPEAK MONDAY MARCH 16 2020 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 When I first found out that Sandra couldnt be identified it felt like my heart hit the floor, said Blue. It is one thing to silence media but something else entirely to silence a person who could find strength and healing from telling, and owning, their own experience. Last year Sandra joined the #LetHerSpeak campaign and is supported by the campaigns legal partner, Marque Lawyers. She is also supported by a growing team of sexual assault survivors and survivor advocates from across the country who are championing her story and her right to tell it. As campaign creator, it is a privi lege to stand tall alongside Sandra. In response, in November last year the AttorneyGeneral, Natasha Fyles, agreed to review the gag-law and Government called for submissions. At least 10 submissions were made. But in a further cruel twist, if the Government amends the laws as they have planned, it wont help Sandra one bit. This is because the law would only allow sexual assault survivors to speak after all avenues of appeal are exhausted. In Sandras case, Kevin Willcocks is still appealing the conviction, despite having already been found guilty and served his 9-month cus Film maker risks jail for doco WHEN director Blue Lucine discovered that she could face six months jail if she were to release a feature-length documentary she had been working on for over a year she was in shock. For more than 12 months the Jerboa Films director had followed Sandra* as she navigated the criminal justice system, after being raped at work one night in 2017. Blue (pictured) was there as Sandra whose real name is being withheld got ready on the days she had to give evidence and face cross examination. She was there when the first court case resulted in a hung jury and, shortly after, when Sandra was hospitalised after an attempt to take her own life. And she was there again the day, when finally, Kevin Willcocks was found guilty and sentenced to three and half years jail, suspended to just nine months. The footage which Blue and producer Mariel Thomas have captured is nothing short of extraordinary. Having seen some of the raw footage, I can say that it shows Sandra for who she real ly is: a woman of incredible warmth, stoic bravery and candid honesty. It is the kind of film which has the potential to change how the public think and talk about the sexual assault of women particularly women who work in adult industries. Indeed, it is the kind of film which could impact on whether those crimes occur in the first place. After all, this crime did not happen in a social vacuum or without witnesses. It happened with several other men watching on, none of whom prevented it from occurring. Worse, moments after it happened, as Sandra crouched semi-naked and sobbing on the hard ground, scrambling for her phone to cry for help, one of the men yelled out arent you going to finish the f***ing show? Its this kind of lack of empathy and callous indifference to women who have experienced sexual assault which the film States of Consent aims to shift. And yet, shockingly, due to an archaic sexual assault victim gag law it is also a film which may never see the light of day. todial sentence. This is not uncommon. Rapists and other sex offenders often appeal convictions even after they are released from jail so they dont have to register as sex offenders or have their employment or travel restricted. If the proposed bill is passed in its current form, it will be a win for rapists and paedophiles as it will ensure that victims like Sandra remain gagged indefinitely, so long as the offender is appealing their conviction. This could last years. It also creates a double standard, where offenders are free to control the narrative by speaking to whomever they like, about whatever they like, at any time they like during proceedings while victims are gagged. Not only does this further strip women like Sandra of any agency, but there is simply no legal reason for the Government to invent this bizarre, untested half way solution. In almost all other Australian jurisdictions, we afford sexual assault victims the exact same rights that we afford all other victims of all other crimes, and we rely on contempt of court, suppression orders and sub judice to protect the integrity of trials. What we dont do and what we shouldnt do is invent an extra special penalty for being a sexual assault victim. To give an idea of how ridiculous the Governments proposed solution is, if a person is stabbed multiple times and survives, they will be free to talk to media all they like. But if in the course of that stabbing, their breast is groped, they will be gagged indefinitely because now they are also a victim of indecent sexual assault too. Later this month a report will be handed down to Government which will hopefully address these concerns. In the meantime, Sandra sits by, waiting for her chance to speak. Her voice matters. Not just to her, but to many. Let her speak. Nina Funnell is the creator of the #LetHerSpeak campaign in partnership with Marque Lawyers and End Rape On Campus Australia. You can donate to the campaign via the #LetHerSpeak GoFundMe. 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