Alice Shaw

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Little Girl Lost

In Opinion on August 6, 2010 at 10:37 am

Where is Kiesha Abrahams?  Somebody must know.  She is just six years old and has been gone for 6 days.     She apparently went to bed at 9.30pm last Saturday night and was left unchecked until 9.30am the next morning.  That seems like a very late night for a little girl and a very long time to be left without being checked on.

Kiesha’s mother states that her little girl had spent the previous three weeks with her.  Her grandmother was the last person to see her on 7th July.  Even given the recent birth of her baby brother, surely someone should have seen Kiesha during that time. 

There are many worrying things about this case.  The apparent length of time that Kiesha went unseen by anyone other than her mother.  Her long absences from school.  The previous treatment for a human, adult bite.  And the sketchy time line.

Jaidyn Leskie went missing in June 1997.  He was being cared for by his mother’s boyfriend, whilst his mother was out drinking at a nightclub.  The boyfriend says that he left this 14 month old baby boy sleeping in his home whilst he drove several kilometres to collect Jaidyn’s mother.  But there were several discrepancies in the story.  And the time line didn’t fit.  There are many similarities between Jaidyn’s story and Kiesha’s.

There is something just not right Kiesha’s disappearance..  Why wasn’t she seen by anyone other than her mother for three weeks?  Why did both her step-father and her mother refer to her in the past tense?  And why did her mother completely cover her face whilst appealing to the public for help?  I can only imagine the terror of finding your child missing, of going through each day desperate for their return.  I can only imagine how hard it must be to go in front of cameras and ask for public assistance.  But when a person avoids eye contact, covers their face and looks away, it seems as though they are hiding something.  When Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal in 2007 her parents begged and pleaded on television for her safe return.  They openly implored anyone who may have seen her for help.  They have admitted their error in leaving their children unattended, albeit close by, but they never hid their faces.  It’s something to consider.

A friend recently reminded me of how Lindy Chamberlain was treated.  Initially the story was received with shock and concern.  But public opinion quickly turned against her and she was tried and convicted by the public long before the matter ever got to court.  So maybe Kristi Abrahams was just too distraught to show her face, and maybe she was grieving so much she accidentally referred to her daughter in the past tense.  But I don’t think so.

I think that Kiesha is already dead, and probably has been since just before she was reported missing.  I think that her mother probably knows what happened to her.  I think the kidnap story seemed the most feasible to cover up a murder.  And I think Kiesha will be found, eventually, in or near water.

 Speculation is that Kiesha was known to child protection services and as more information emerges, there will no doubt be a backlash against the services charged with keeping children safe.  But child protection workers are run off their feet, particularly in certain areas of Sydney.  And ultimately the people charged with keeping Kiesha safe, are her parents and there is already enough information emerging to suggest that they did anything but that. 

 I sincerely hope this story will have a happy ending.  I fear that it almost certainly will not.

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Is $37 Million Enough?

In Opinion on August 3, 2010 at 11:10 am

Why shouldn’t Kristy Fraser-Kirk sue for damages?  She had to endure unwanted sexual advances from a man in such a high position that she could easily lose her job should he decide to make it so.  She allegedly told her employers of the sexual harassment she was suffering on a regular basis and they apparently did nothing.  She, like hundreds of other women, of all ages, was subjected to the kind of behaviour that is quite simply not acceptable in a place of employment but which is still accepted, in many work places.  Some men, no matter what, will consider you to be fair game, because you are a woman.  I challenge any woman to go to work, or to a social gathering with a group of women, and ask around about who has been subjected to sexual innuendo, unwanted touching, an inference that their job will be made a lot easier if they are “nice” to the boss.  I think you would be hard pressed to find many women who have not been subjected to this behaviour, on some level, through their working lives.

 Columnists such as Susie O’Brien do all women a grave disservice by suggesting that since rape victims get as little as $50,000 in compensation, then Ms Fraser-Kirk’s claim is way over the top.  This claim highlights just how badly Australia treats its rape victims.  When women are the victims of such crimes there seems to be a suggestion that the victim must prove her derservingness for compensation.  She seemingly must disprove that she did anything that might provoke sexually offensive behaviour.

 I applaud Ms Fraser-Kirk.  The 7pm Project stated this evening that everyone seemed to be talking about the money, rather than the sexual harassment itself.  I firmly believe that if there was no $37 million claim, then no one would be talking about the incident at all.  The millions of dollars that Ms Fraser-Kirk is claiming are punitive damages.  Punitive means to punish.  Does anyone really believe that $100,000 or so will make any difference at all to a multi-billion dollar company like David Jones?  Is that amount really going to punish them?  Has Mark McInnes actually learned his lesson, or has he just scuttled off overseas to enjoy his life, away from the spotlight, to potentially go on and behave the same way in some future job?  If he loses an amount equivalent to 5% of his salary then perhaps that will make him think twice.  The $37 million claim is not about greed, or making up for losing a job.  It is about punishing those who allowed this young woman to go through this level of harassment.  It is to send a crystal clear message to any other high flying company and it’s executives that if you force yourself upon a female employee, there will be consequences.  Hopefully $37 million worth of consequences in this particular case will be an adequate deterrent.

 Ms Frazer-Kirk has stated that she will give any punitive damages awarded to her to a women’s charity to assist women who have been victims of sexually offensive behaviour.  This is an honourable gesture on her part and she should be applauded for making it rather than having her character called into question by those who suggest that she won’t follow through with this promise.

 Discussion surrounding the sexual misconduct of Mr McInnes, the response by David Jones to her allegedly drawing their attention to the matter, and the subsequent legal action brought by Ms Fraser-Kirk must not become about discrediting the victim.  Mr McInnes was the perpetrator and the suggestion is that to some extent, David Jones allegedly sought to cover up his behaviour.  There needs to be accountability and there needs to be a clear and firm message sent to every male employer, who holds a position of power, that it is not okay for them to use this power in order to satisfy their own sexual needs.  It is not okay for anybody in a position of power to utilise their position in order to seek to gain sexual acquiescence from any of their employees.

 Any person who victimises their employees through sexual misconduct should hang their heads in shame and resign immediately.  They are undeserving of their high ranking, highly paid positions. 

 So, is $37 million enough to stop sexual harassment and intimidation in the work place?  Let’s hope so.