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Section 59 - A Fundamental Human Right

Press release
Wednesday 27 July 2005

Section 59 - A Fundamental Human Right

“We have a situation where a minority of the population is denied one of their fundamental human rights by the remainder of the population,” declares David Hanna, Director of Wesley Community Action. “This minority group will not be able to vote on the legislation that is being debated in the House to address this injustice and they will not even be able to vote in the coming general election. Astounding isn’t it? But this is the simple truth of the debate around repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act. The proposed legislation is simply about extending fundamental human rights to children – nothing else.”

All objections against this long overdue legislative change are attempts to hide the core human right issue. Our history tells us that when disempowered groups have fought to claim their full human rights there were a range of excuses and ‘reasons’ put forward by those in power for why it was in their best interests to remain oppressed. “The blacks aren’t as intelligent” ….. “women can not handle making decisions” …. “Slavery is natural and good for them”. Let us not forget that the list of excuses was very long and was frequently made by learned and well meaning people.

To agree on a compromise would be to commit a great travesty of justice. The Church did this when considering the question of men beating their wives. The resulting compromise was the ‘rule of thumb’ – a man should not beat his wife with a stick that is thicker than his thumb. This probably helped support domestic violence for another hundred years or so. Is this the result we want for our children.

Irrespective of the mounting research evidence on the harmful effects of violence on children the essential issue is one of social justice. Any adult should not be allowed any excuse for using violence to any child.

Wesley Community Action is committed to achieving social justice. It is injustice that gives rise to the need for the social services that we provide.


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