A group called Roastbusters has been all over the news and blogs in NZ today. They are a group of 17-18-year-olds who go to parties with the intent of finding young, drunk girls and having group sex with them. This is just all sorts of wrong.

They had a handy-dandy Facebook group, so you could track their exploits from the comfort of your own home (or office chair). From said Facebook group, I would assume that they go about their naming and shaming. I really hope there were no photos or video shared, but news reports say nothing about this. Sexual predators are not known for their mercy toward victims though.

Facebook also gives a little insight into what the boys thought of themselves, with one member of the group openly declaring that he was a rapist. Did he actually believe that? I have no idea. But it’s true.

There’s plenty of outcry about all this. The police had known about this for more than two years, but they never acted. They were waiting for a girl “brave enough” to be the public face of the legal case. And in interviewing several girls over two years, they found no-one that wanted to be shamed by having her sexual history aired and judged by the masses.

Can you imagine how the girls who were violated and shamed felt when the cop said that they couldn’t find someone brave enough? The shame worms its way deeper, as every girl thinks that if only they’d been stronger, they could have stopped other girls from having to go through this. So, thanks there, NZ Police. The detective inspector is going to get a roasting over this one by feminist and anti-violence groups. Blaming the victim for not stopping the crime? For shame.

I’m sure that these guys have broken a bunch of laws here, and there is the question of why the police could not act. Is it really not possible to prosecute without a victim willing to speak out? Was the information in the Facebook not good enough to go to court? The police will have to come up with some decent reasons, because the current line of ‘strategic and tactical purposes’ isn’t flying too well.

Will these girls ever see justice? And what will justice look like? There are plenty of internet tough guys saying things like ‘if it was my daughter, I would get a group of mates and go smash them’ or the line I hate most about prison, ‘I hope they’re raped in prison. Taste of their own medicine’. Would the girls feel safer/revenged/whatever by having their assailant physically hurt? Probably. But is that justice? I don’t think so. It doesn’t ‘teach them a lesson’ or anything useful like that. And the smash-er is likely to get jail time while the smash-ee walks free.

Will they see justice through the court system? Well, that’s a bit of a hairy one. Court systems are notoriously bad at handing out justice to rape victims. Defense lawyers are excellent at ripping apart victims on the stand, and juries are very good at blaming the victims for their rape. The best that the court system can give in a ‘maybe’. Maybe you’ll get lucky, or maybe you’ll be dismissed as too slutty to be able to call it rape, or having drunk too much and getting what you deserved.

I don’t know how the police handled themselves when interviewing the girls over the past couple of years, but I can understand why there are no girls “brave enough” to be the figurehead of the case. Being judged in the public court of opinion, having every detail of your life examined for faults and flaws, and having to deal with reporters and hecklers and so on, is all too much to deal with when you’re (hypothetically) sixteen and you’ve been sexually violated and then shamed for your sexual assault. Testifying in court, and having a defense attorney rip you to shreds is just not fair for and victim. and there stands a problem with rape cases.

In rape cases, it’s not so much the rapist on trial, as it is the personal life of the victim. Who wants to stand up there and having to admit that yes, you only wear thongs, and have it proposed to the court that this preference means you’re asking for it. Or that one time you had oral sex behind the bike shed (how on earth did they find that out?) and this makes you a woman of loose morals and therefore it wasn’t rape. These girls are not to blame, and they are not cowards in any way.

Because this case has exploded in the media, there’s a good chance that these boys will see the inside of the courtroom. What they will walk out with, however, is a lucky dip. Will someone argue that we shouldn’t do this to the poor boys, because we don’t want to ruin their future? I hope not. Homicidal rage isn’t a good look for me.

The case is both simple and complex, and plenty of people have analysed it better than I. To me, what it comes down to is a bunch of young men who get off on power, hurting young women to make themselves more powerful. I feel a scarily short road to becoming full-fledged rapists. Or perhaps they are already, and their youth makes me too forgiving.


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