The complicated act of celebrating an assault conviction
This article contains commentary around sexual assault and may not be suitable for some readers.
Today we heard that former NRL player Jarryd Hayne has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in 2018. The trial judge was quoted saying that a jail term was "inevitable". The context around this comment are not clear, but we're left wondering whether it was a reference to the current climate and waves of allegations coming out of Parliament House. Hayne has been released on a $50 000 bail and will be sentenced in May. For more information, read the ABC article on the case.
News of this nature is always met with a myriad of feelings. Sadness for the survivor, that the crime was committed at all. Happiness that a person who committed a horrendous act will be held accountable and suffer the consequences. Confusion that you're happy over the news of someone going to jail. Anger that these crimes are continuously committed against women. Hope that one conviction may mean a change is near, that we might begin to see more assaulters and rapists paying for their crimes.
Following the devastating and frankly completely fucked story of 'Kate', who alleges she was raped by the Attorney General Christian Porter, hearing Brittany Higgins' allegations, and the colossal fallout from both, there's a sense of comfort hearing that at least one man will be held accountable for his actions. It helps that he's a public figure, and it helps that he's an NRL player, who, as a group, seem to be untouchable in the eyes of the media and the law.
This isn't the first time we've celebrated a public conviction. The locking away of Daniel Morcombe's killer and George Pell are two other celebrated trials in recent memory. Hayne's conviction is particularly comforting (if that's the right word) in the current climate. It does make us think that perhaps the times are changing.
Thousands of women across the country have been following the recent conversations about sexual violence with a guarded sense of hope. Is this a revolution? Or is it just a lot of talk? Will we see follow through? Or is this yet another opportunity for the world to ignore the voice of women.