Blaming a victim of sexual abuse is disgusting, it’s abhorrent, but novel? No. Short skirts, returning an inappropriate gaze, or not fighting back with quite enough “conviction” have all played suit to the legal justification for acts rape and abuse.
It’s one of those concepts that seems so baseless and irrational that most of us think the legal system would surely throw it out and prosecute the bad guys, but like trickle down economics and creationism, blaming the victim continues to fit nicely into the world view of people in power and results in devastating effects on a micro (or as I would say – human) level.
The latest example of this can be seen in a recent ruling by two Argentine judges, Horacio Piombo and Benjamín Sal Llargues, from the 3rd. San Martin Court that has recently made the headlines around the world. The judicial pair is cited with reducing the sentence for the former deputy chairman of Loma Hermosa´s Florida Club, who found quality of sexually abusing a six year-old boy.
Child abusers don’t often get the sympathy vote, so what gives here?
The judges found (with legal precedent, by the way) that the abuser should not be held to the maxim punishment for his crimes because the victim in question was “already showing signs of being gay” in addition to having been abused previously by a family member. This combination apparently reduced the 6 year-old’s capacity for being traumatized by the abuse that took place at the football club to the extent that his abuser ended up only having to serve three of the six years of his sentence.
The assertion that a 6 year-old could even have a sexual preference is a bit controversial, but it was apparently enough to sway both judges to deem his abuse as being plain run-of-the-mill abuse instead of “ultrajante” or “egregious”.
Effectively the decision as to whether the abuse was standard level messed up vs. “ultrajante” translates into the perpetrator’s early release. It should be noted that this happened over a year ago but the Argentine media got wind of the verdict this week and a massive public discussion has ensued.
Esteban Paulón, the president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Federation of Argentina (FALGBT) lived up to his reputation for being a well spoken voice of reason in saying: “We can not get out of our stupor over the Appeals Court’s failure to plow through the most basic legal criteria to foster impunity (for a criminal) while putting the victim is a place of suspicion. Sexual abuse is one of the most heinous crimes, this man’s conviction cannot possibly generate any doubt and should punish to the full extent of the law”.
The victim is now eleven years old, and based on recent court documentation he suffers from anxiety, depression, and faces extreme challenges in school but somehow isn’t sufficiently traumatized in the eyes of the court.
The public outcry over this gross lapse in
common sense decency is being observed at a large scale alongside the legal action being promised by groups like FALGBT who state they will fight to investigate both the case and the individuals involved in the mishandling of justice.
If you are looking for a productive way to channel your vesicular rage then add your name to the list of 110,000 people who as of today have signed the Change.org petition advocating for both judges to be impeached.
Who knows. Maybe it’s not too late for the Argentine justice system to show its teeth.