A man has been convicted of assault for hitting his daughter because she was dating a Muslim. You can’t assault someone, the law worked. Good, right?
OK. Now, let’s imagine that this had taken a place a year ago and the daughter, who is 20 years old, was 15 instead and, so, a child in the eyes of the law. The assault would have been perfectly legal. Not only would this man not be punished by the law, his actions would have been specifically permitted by the law.
Under section 59 of the Crimes Act, parents had the right to use reasonable force for the purposes of correction. Juries had found reasonable force included using a riding crop, so striking his daughter’s hand with his would certainly have been within the bounds of â€˜reasonable force’ and parents were permitted to ‘correct’ any behaviour they found wrongful, which would have included dating a Muslim (frankly, parents were allowed to hit for no reason at all).
Not only would it have been legal to beat the young woman for dating a Muslim, it would only have been legal because she was a child. The passing of Sue Bradford’s anti-child beating law last year has made assaulting a child illegal. If it is repealed, as the Family First seeks to achieve, it would again be legal to assault a child, and only a child, for no reason.
So, who will stand up for a parent’s right to assault their child for dating a Muslim (or talking too loudly, or playing with their food, or just getting in the damn way)?