[I wrote here about the range of celebrity, and non-celebrity, sexual offences and, although you'll not need to have read that to understand my points here, that gives a bit of background that I'm going to bypass.]
It's a sad fact of our civilised society, in this enlightened era, that we're meant to be grateful for every sentence doled out to a sex offender. Me? I'm almost as offended by this fact, and the pathetically short sentences usually given, as I am by a sex offender walking free. Summat you might not know about me is that I was a university politics student before I had to leave due to my mental health, and as a former politics student, I'm a news fiend. One of my many, many geek traits is that I will literally watch the news all day. All day the same rolling stories, because the feeling of not being one hundred per cent in the know- about anything, but in this case, current affairs- makes me feel like I've been swept up in a hurricane; completely out of control. A lot of my friends on this unit are the opposite; they'll go completely out of their ways to avoid the news at all costs, because there are too many buzzwords that they need to avoid, mostly around sex offences, because of links to their pasts. We are a ward of survivors, and to survive, we must do as we must. News stories of sex offences can trigger all kinds of dark things in my fellow survivors, but they spur me on. There is so much injustice and if nobody else is fixing it... I must.
Now, I don't want to go all Daily Mail (as if I could. I don't particularly like Princess Diana, I have no problems with any sexuality, I think immigration is good for this country and I'm a feminist), but a gross injustice happened yesterday in the latest of the alleged celebrity sex offender sentencing. Stuart Hall admitted to abusing 14 girls. Well, you'd think, that must carry quite a sentence. I mean, that's 14 people who will spend their whole life avoiding references; looking over their shoulders; hiding; sleeping with one eye open; curled in the foetal position with his image burned upon their eye lids, and his touch burnt and branded upon their skin. That's 14 families hurt, confused, ashamed and feeling guilty, amongst other things. Rape is like being murdered in a particularly horrible manner, and then having to live with it whilst pretending it never happened, because of a societal stigma.
This great sentence handed to Stuart Hall? 15 months. Just over a month, per victim. Several great injustices lead to this holiday park sentence- the maximum sentence for the types of abuse he carried out is 2 years, unless the victim is under 13, in which case it is 5 years. At least one of his victims was under this age, at 9. When you think about the whole thing, it gets even muddier. If he'd abused one person, he'd have got the same kind of sentence, so is it a case of abuse-one-get-the-rest-free?
I don't really know what else to say or what conclusions to draw from all this, except I'm not grateful that 'at least he's locked up.' I don't care that the crimes were historical, I don't care about maximum sentencing and I don't care that Stuart hall is now a soiled name. What I do care about is the people he broke, the families he destroyed and all of that lost innocence- taken from both the people he touched directly and the people with any kind of link to those. I care that his barrister apparently told the court, in mitigation, that Hall had "all of 13 [13 was the original claim, it later went up to 14]" victims compared to Jimmy Savile's 1,300. I hurt for a society that thinks this is a valid point and/or that 13 victims is not too many, when in fact it's 13 too many.