A lawyer offered a new rebuttal for a client convicted of sexual abuse of a child: shame is the worst punishment. I give the lawyer credit. Despite the argument’s absurdity, it is inventive. The lawyer explained her logic:
[Raheelah] Dar’s barrister requested her client receive a community sentence for the conviction over a jail sentence.
Alison Pryor told Teeside Crown Court: “Because of the context under which this offending took place, my client is a practicing Muslim, the shame that this has brought and will bring on her family cannot be underestimated. It is something that would not be found in a more ordinary case of this type.
“The effect that a sentence would have is less than the effect that the conviction had on the community.”
Again, this is an inventive argument. Dar will suffer religious shame therefore she should not spend any time in jail. That seems fair. The victim only accused Dar of isolating and manipulating the her for four years as Dar abused her. The victim now reports difficulty interacting with people, disliking being touched, and a number of health problems related to her attempt to cope with the abuse. It would obviously serve both the victim and the community if Dar sat at home and received therapy for her bi polar condition rather than the seven years in jail as per her sentence. There would, of course, be no risk of Dar offending against other children.
Fortunately, and quite surprisingly considering this happened in the UK and involved a female and Muslim offender, the judge did not buy this argument:
A judge has rejected the claim of a lawyer defending a woman who was convicted of a string of sexual offences against a nine-year-old girl that she should not face jail time because the “shame” brought on herself and her family is punishment enough. […] Recorder Tim Roberts QC said he would be failing in his duties if he did not pass a jail sentence.
He told Ms Dar: “You were 26. She was only nine. You were sexually experienced and had been married. She was an innocent. You were crafty.”
It is good that judges are beginning to see that female predators behave the same as male predators. Far too often female predators receive sympathy from the court and face little consequence for their actions. Often they only receive probation, are not required to appear on a sex offender registry, continue to have access to children, including custody of their own children, and receive sympathy for whatever abuse they suffered as a child.
This woman used the girl’s trust to control her and now attempts to hide behind her religion as an reason for why she should not be punished. The proper response to this defense is to place the woman in jail. She will not serve the full term. Good behavior and her status as a woman will ensure that at best Dar will serve half the sentence. However, she does need a real consequence for her actions. She should not receive a pass after abusing a child for four years.