Earlier today, the Queensland Police Service posted a link on Facebook to this article about the arrest of a 38-year-old Victorian man who flew to Queensland with the intent of meeting a 14-year-old girl he had been interacting with online, and having sex with her.
The investigation, and ultimate arrest, was undertaken by Task Force Argos, a specialised branch of the Queensland Police Service responsible for the investigation of on-line child exploitation and abuse.
Task Force Argos was initially established in 1997 as part of the Forde Inquiry which looked into matters of historical child sexual abuse within institutions in Queensland – similar to the current Royal Commission, but on a smaller scale. Over time, the focus of Task Force Argos has moved from historical cases of child sexual abuse to the online grooming, predation, and abuse of minors.
To say the response on Facebook has been mixed would be an understatement. As you would probably expect, there are a large number of comments praising the work of Task Force Argos and the Queensland Police Service, but as early as a few minutes after the link was posted, there are also a significant number of comments supporting the ‘victim’ – the 38-year-old who, after establishing a ‘relationship’ (grooming) the minor, flew from Victoria to Queensland with the intent to have sex with said minor.
The comments in support of this ‘victim’ are based on several arguments, some of which include:
- the act of intercourse did not actually take place (because the ‘victim’ was arrested);
- the 14-year-old girl did not exist – it was a member of Task Force Argos the ‘victim’ had been grooming;
- there is nothing wrong with an adult male having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl;
- 14-year-old girls are asking for it anyway.
At first I was a bit lost for words at the backlash against the arrest, but after thinking it over for some time, I can’t really say I am surprised – neither by the number of people supporting the ‘victim’, nor by the arguments put forward. I have witnessed these reactions so many times before, and sadly, even from people very close to me.
Would it make any difference if the age of the minor had been 8, or 10, or 6, or any other age younger than 14? I doubt it. I have seen and heard too many times people support the predator rather than then prey, regardless of the situation, circumstances, or ages of either party.
The difficulty I have, is in understanding such a point of view.
In relation to this particular case, Queensland law says the age of consent, that is, the age at which an individual has the cognitive capacity to make an informed decision regarding the act of sexual intercourse – meaning they can think about and understand all of the consequences resulting from having sex – is 16. Therefore, any individual under the age of 16 is, in the eyes of the law, a minor. There can not be any legal argument which supports a person who INTENTIONALLY seeks out a minor with the INTENT to have sex with them.
My personal perspective on those who support the ‘victim’ (the 38-year-old who flew across two states to have sex with a minor) is that they should also be investigated by Task Force Argos. I know there will be so many people who disagree with me and yelling, “What for?” at me, but surely even thinking the sexual violation of a child – a minor, an individual who does not have the cognitive capacity to make an informed decision – surely even thinking such an act is okay should cause alarm bells to ring about the safety of the children who are in close contact with these people?
Sexual abuse of a child can happen in one, yes ONE, second. It does not necessarily require days, weeks, or months of grooming, chatting, flirting, or desensitising. Sexual abuse of a child can happen in an instant, and if so many people out there are thinking it is okay for an adult to have sex with a child, how many more of them think it is okay to sexually abuse a child without penile penetration?
Thank God for Task Force Argos and other units like it, because if we, as adults in the general population, do not care enough about children to think it is wrong to sexually abuse them, at least the children have someone on their side, looking out for them.