The Value of Woman

I’ve just listened to the news.

I have just heard that the government is set  to introduce legislation that will make certain products – currently sold in ‘Head Shops’ in Ireland – illegal. If you’re caught in possession of these products – like Mephedrone – you face a fine and up to seven years in prison. If you are found to be a supplier of these mind-altering drugs, you could get a life sentence.

I also heard about a woman in this country who, not quite three years ago, was six months pregnant and lying asleep in her own bed in her own home. At 4.30am, she woke up to see her ex-boyfriend (and the father of her unborn child) in her room, totally uninvited.

He was wielding a shotgun. After breaking her teeth, he told her to look down the barrel of the gun so she could see the bullet as it was coming to kill her.

Afterwards, he raped her – anally and vaginally. He held her hostage for a number of hours before the Gardaí eventually convinced him to release this woman without doing her or her baby any further harm. I don’t know this woman but I am willing to bet my house that there were days when she wished to God that he had killed her. Such is the absolute devastation that an attack  like this wreaks on the life of the violated.

This savage, vicious attack could easily have caused this woman to have lost her baby. There was no report of her having lost her child, so we can assume that she carried her baby to term and delivered him/her. If she chose to keep her baby, she has a reminder – every time she looks at the child – of that child’s father. The man who brutalized her, violated her, and scarred her – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Let me be clear – this woman will never recover from her ordeal. She will learn to cope, she will learn to live with the aftermath, she will learn to function. She will have bad days and good days. The best she can hope for is that, one year, the good days will outnumber the bad days.

Today, the man who brutalised her was sentenced. He received a sentence of 10 years, with 3 years suspended. So he will serve 7 years.

That’s right, folks, you can break into the home of a pregnant woman, you can break her teeth, threaten to kill her with a shotgun, hold her hostage for several hours, force your penis into her anus, force your penis into her vagina, ‘to pass the time’ (as this man told this woman) and leave her scarred for life. Or you can buy a little bag of mind-altering chemicals for your own consumption. You’ll serve the same amount of time.

Now, I understand that, sometimes, judges have their hands tied by the laws of this country. If the maximum sentence a judge can pass is 2 years, a judge can’t send someone away for life just because he feels like it. But a 10 year sentence – with three years suspended – for a series of crimes this heinous seems shabby.

Could the judge not have handed down a sentence for each crime and ordered them to run consecutively?  Could this man not have been sentenced for illegal possession of a shotgun; breaking and entering; false imprisonment; each count of rape; threatening to kill and assault and battery?

If not, why not?

Or is the simple, bald truth that we value women less than a bag of ‘Spice’ in this country?

Listening to the news frequently annoys and upsets me. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop.