There's a reason we all think we know Cassie Sainsbury is guilty.

Headphones are not particularly cheap in Colombia. They’re also not very heavy.

Not as heavy as almost 6kg of cocaine, anyway.

And really, a wedding party gift? Wouldn’t you be spewing if THAT was your thank you for spending the day in pink polyester?

Hey, have you checked out that travel itinerary? There’s no way her story stacks up, she couldn’t possibly have fitted in stops in Hong Kong and London as well as South America and still made it back to be welcomed by her family on Good Friday, right?

These are the conversations that are all around you this week as we collectively pass judgement on Cassie Sainsbury, the young Adelaide woman detained on cocaine smuggling charges in Bogota, South America.

Cassie Sainsbury is facing drug charges in Colombia. (Image via Instagram.)

She's so guilty, we're all saying. Have you seen the photos? She's got a nose ring. And a tattoo (it says, Harry Potter fans, 'I do solemnly swear that I am up to no good').

What's a 22-year-old personal trainer/industrial cleaner/working holiday maker doing on a world tour that takes in China, LA and South America? Like, seriously.

When it comes to bad girls, we're all armchair experts.

Let's blame our current obsession with all things true crime. Listen to enough podcasts and watch enough Making A Murderer and you can definitely pick a criminal out of a tabloid line-up.


And let's blame the fact that when it comes to pretty young white women who do the Wrong Thing, we can't get enough.

Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team discusses the nation's obsession with this story. (Post continues after audio.)

We want every detail. What's her family like? Who's her fiance? Does he look a bit dodgy?

What about her social media accounts? Does she party? Does she do duck face?

For a nation who loves to think that we live by the slogan 'no judgement', we sure do a hell of a lot of judging when it comes to a woman who might get Banged Up Abroad.

Bad girls are rare, and that makes them exciting.

Women commit crimes at less than a quarter of the rate of men. The Australian prison population is 92 per cent male*. Of all Australians currently serving sentences overseas on a variety of crimes, there are less than a handful of females.

So when a young woman appears to do the Wrong Thing, we tie ourselves in knots trying to figure out why she would. What went wrong? We rarely permit the obvious explanation - money - to be the accurate one. Surely women aren't so motivated by cold, hard cash? She was on a quest for adventure. She was under the thrall of a controlling man. She's the damaged product of a screwed up family.

Sainsbury's father broke his silence on the case yesterday. Image via social.

Maybe those things are true about Cassandra Sainsbury. Maybe they're not. One way or another, with her currently staring at the choice between admitting guilt and getting a quick trial, or sticking to her story of innocence and not finding out her fate for a year or more, a professional court of law will ultimately decide this. Not us on the lounge in front of A Current Affair.

In the meantime, let's consider this. Women are particularly vulnerable in jail. Today our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made the point on Radio National that one of the crucial things our representatives visiting Cassie in Colombia would be doing would be making sure she had access to personal hygiene products and facilities. That tells you a lot about what they're expecting Cassie's current digs to be like.


Consider what it would be like to be a terrified 22-year-old in a strange country with a reputation for lawlessness knowing that, guilty or innocent, you whole life has changed in a second.

There are, of course, a couple of Australian women who know exactly what that feels like. Schapelle Corby, and the 'Bali Nine's' Renae Lawrence. They have both taken their turns as the bad girl obsession of the tabloids. Their families have both experienced what Cassie's are right now - wild speculation, constant harassment, the temptation of being paid for 'setting the story straight'.

Schapelle Corby has taken her turn as the bad girl obsession of the tabloids. Image via Getty.

If any of us are ever unlucky or stupid enough to find ourselves in that situation, we'd want to pray there isn't anyone in our family who has an axe to grind or is a bit down on their luck.

Cassie Sainsbury, young and photogenic and a cautionary tale, will be our media obsession for the foreseeable future. Us armchair detectives will get some pleasing twists in the story yet.

But maybe we should all take a breath to remember that a young woman's quickly disintegrating life is not sport.

Maybe we don't really know anything about the price of headphones in Colombia.

Certainly, for Cassie Sainsbury, they are very, very expensive.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics.