Trigger warning: This post features explicit details of rape that could be distressing for some readers.
A Sydney mayor who wrote a glowing reference in support of convicted Soho nightclub rapist, Luke Lazarus, is under fire again, for proposing education sessions to teach girls how to minimise their “risky behaviour” in relation to rape.
The Liberal mayor of Waverley drew fire previously, when she and a parade of other well-heeled members of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs attempted to persuade the sentencing judge to allow the convicted rapist to avoid jail time.
But try as he might, Lazarus, a Cranbrook old boy, was unable to hide behind his family’s wealth and connections.
Despite his various advocates describing him as “courteous” and “respectful” with a “promising future”, he was sentenced to a minimum term of three years, for the rape of an 18-year-old woman in an alleyway, at the back of a Kings Cross nightclub.
Now, Sally Betts, has the Liberal mayor of Waverley has told a reporter that she is working with police to introduce a “new risky behaviour education program to try and help young women understand and better deal with being in vulnerable situations.”
This follows on from previous statements, in which Betts stated that she was working to develop an educational program for young people, in the hopes that Lazarus may one day be involved: “When we get this program up and running, [we would like him to be able to] say to young people: ‘This is what I did. I did the most terrible thing, I’ve ruined my family’s life, I’ve ruined my life, be careful don’t do it.”‘
In other words, the program would utilize the convicted rapist to teach boys about the harm that rape causes men.
Betts also urged the sentencing judge in Lazarus’s trial to be lenient on Lazarus, stating that the rapist’s family had already been sufficiently embarrassed by the media coverage, and that Lazarus himself was “suffering greatly as a result of the shame he has brought on his family.”
Well sorry, Mayor Betts, but at this point, you can cry me a fracking river.
Because Luke Lazarus is not the victim here, and nor are his family members. And the tragedy is not that a young man’s CEO aspirations have been thwarted by the courts, or that his family members have suffered some great discomfort because of all the media coverage.(Although isn’t it telling that it is the ‘media coverage’, not the rape itself, that is continually referred to as the source of embarrassment for the family?)
Nor should a rapist ever serve a lighter sentence because of his family’s wealth and connections, and it is appalling that a rapist could try to use his station in life to shelter from the law.
More to the point though, do we really need a convicted rapist teaching other young men about the harm that rape causes to men, when it is precisely this sort of egotistical male self-interest (and lack of concern for the experience of women) that often contributes to rape in the first place?
And why on earth are we thinking of talking to teen boys about the impacts rape could have on their own career prospects and relationships, when all of the evidence shows that care and empathy for others, along with a solid understanding of consent, is what actually reduces rates of sexual assault. (Incidentally, one also wonders at the logic behind offering this man a platform so he can speak to teenagers, given that he just raped one.)