To The Judge, If I Get Murdered; Please Let Me Keep My Humanity
The Defense said it was her fault, Grace Millane asked for it, rough sex was all it was. He televised her sexual history and the fact that she had requested an ex-boyfriend to choke her once. They acted like she did this to herself, it was crucifixion, she was sexually promiscuous they said.
Grace Millane was murdered not just once in New Zealand, our land of the long white cloud, our paradise, we are safe on our little island they said, I was told it is better here. Nay, they murdered her twice, once in a bedroom, and once in a courtroom; the only difference was she was already dead the second time around.
In New Zealand, we give offenders name suppression to protect them, lawyers they cannot afford, promises of speedy trials, security, and a system created just for them; we protect them. All we give victims is their trauma televised. Sometimes, we stray as far as to provide free counselling to minimise our guilt about the fact that we did nothing at all for them. In New Zealand, our land of the long white cloud is a land that was made for the offender, where the victim is nothing but an afterthought and a liability.
Our Criminal Justice system is flawed, but I understand we are all but chasing the next paycheque. Prosecutors use victims stories like leverage to win cases for personal triumph; it is not about the victims suffering; it is about maximising prosecutor success rates; this is merely a game of tattle-tale. The victims are pawns, moved intentionally to get ahead, but always discarded by the end.
The trial of Grace Millane, and many others who came before and who will come after, was not about the victim, nor even about the crime. It was about which side, the Prosecutor or the Defence, could tell the best story; and so they did. Grace was stripped of her dignity by the Defence, her sexual history painfully broadcasted in front of her parents, as if it meant something and as if this changed something. The Defence said she asked for rough sex, an accident gone awry, skimming over the fact that she had internal bruising on her neck from death by strangulation, which takes approximately ten minutes. However, it does not matter the real facts. As mentioned, this is not about the crime or the victim; it is about the story. It is about telling a tale, fallacious or not, in such a way that can eliminate culpability; that is what makes a good lawyer I am told. It is about him being a swimming athlete, planning for the Olympics, or a good son, and a better friend. Their prospects appear to be good enough get out of jail free cards.
Acts like the 2002 victims rights Act vowed to protect victims. ‘We must treat victims with courtesy, compassion and respect for their dignity and privacy’ it says. However, the way the Defence propelled the blame of Graces murder onto an already dead girl brings into question where the courtesy and compassion was. Or, how they justified him putting her into a suitcase, discarding her like trash, merely because he was scared; an honest mistake he publicised. Let alone, how they branded her promiscuous for using the app Tinder or going back to his place, and somehow this does not ring as a very dignifying thing to do. These Acts that are made, here in New Zealand, a paradise some call it, where everything is better, are just embellished systems that are only about an offender and the crown, the victims are just the tug-of-war, used by both sides until one wins, then discarded.
It appears victims are used like tools more than humans. They are left with nothing but their trauma that has been broadcasted for an outcome that was meant to be for them but somehow is not. Ironic. So to the judge that one day might have to deal with my murder case, do not let me be in a game of tug-of-war, or tattle-tale, do not let my family become victims of your systems grotesque storying telling. Let me keep my humanity; it was never yours to take away.