What an instructive week in the news — two things are clear from reading the papers: If you’re a Hollywood célébre who raped a child 30 years ago, all is forgiven; and if you wed 25 women and say your religion commands it, no lawyer or judge in Canada will touch you.
As Hollywoodites rush to defend director Roman Polanski, who is facing extradition to the U.S. over a 1977 rape of a 13-year-old girl, some egregious examples of how our society views rape have come to the surface.
Polanski’s sister-in-law Debra Tate called it a “consensual matter,” while Tom O’Neill — who has much to gain from the debacle as senior editor of In Touch Weekly — said, “It’s mind-boggling why they’re still pursuing this … The prosecutors in Los Angeles won’t let go these many years later.”
Oh, those dogged lawyers. Never mind that celebrities seem to be treated with a separate law book, or that Polanski pleaded guilty in the first place. The statute of limitations does not run out on punishing someone for forcing a child to have sex, and though Polanski may have settled with his victim Samantha Gailey in a lawsuit, he has not paid his dues to society.
Closer to home, B.C. courts threw out polygamy charges against fundamentalist Mormon leaders Winston Blackmore and James Oler on grounds that former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal had no jurisdiction to “shop around” for a prosecutor willing to take on the case.
From women who have left these “plural” marriages, we’ve learned about child brides married to men three times their age, women denied education and careers and threatened with death for wanting out.
Others are trafficked across the U.S.-Canada border into marriages — according to an RCMP affidavit, seven of Blackmore’s alleged 25 wives are American. In short, women in polygamist communities are denied the freedom, equality and choice that ordinary women are afforded, which is why they must be protected.
This is how a misogynistic culture is fostered — when it’s condoned by society and squeezed through legal loopholes. No amount of brilliance exonerates a man for raping a child, nor can religion or faulty justice morally excuse men from taking advantage of vulnerable women.