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McCulloch is wrong...



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MEDIA RELEASE

Tanya Plibersek MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR SYDNEY Shadow Minister for Work, Family & Community Shadow Minister for Youth & Early Childhood

Education

Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on the Status of Women

McCulloch is wrong…

Colleen McCulloch's comments, as reported in today's media, are extremely disturbing and show that many Australians still misunderstand child abuse.

Ms McCulloch is quoted as saying "It's Polynesian to break your girls in at 12…" to justify the Pitcairn Island rapes.

This comment ignores the fact firstly that the charges related to forced sex, and secondly that most Polynesian countries have legal age of consent between males and females of 16. The age of consent in French Polynesia (Tahiti) and Tonga is both 16 for

instance. One of the Pitcairn Island charges relates to a man forcing a five year old girl to perform oral sex.

Excusing these rapes, which were obviously traumatic for the victims, and caused long term damage, is what child abusers do. Such attitudes are too common already in Australia.

Women in some Aboriginal communities, for example, are fighting similar claims in their own communities.

The fact that child abuse or forced sex is common in a community does not make it right.

It does not lessen the damage to victims.

The testimony of some of the girls raped in Pitcairn attests to this, one saying in evidence that "Everyone thinks Pitcairn is a paradise, but it was sheer hell when I was

17 November 2004

growing up there." Other evidence presented by girls who grew up on Pitcairn, now women who have left the island, was of forced sex and abuse that left them degraded and isolated, the perpetrators acting as a law unto themselves.

Colleen McCulloch should not be supporting child abusers by excusing their behaviour.

All Australians need to clearly state that child sexual abuse is never acceptable.

For further media comment, please contact: Tanya Plibersek MP on 02 6277 4519 or 0413 777 787