So, there’s this vile man, Magnus Meyer Hustveit. He raped his then girlfriend, Niamh Nic Dhomhnail, several times while she was sleeping and unable to give consent. This week in Dublin, he was convicted (he pleaded guilty) and given a sentence of 7 years. But then the judge suspended the whole thing. Which means that as long as he does not break the law during a sort of probationary period, he won’t have to go to prison. At all. Even after he admitted raping this woman repeatedly.
So why did this happen? The judge, Justice Patrick McCarthy, justified his decision to suspend the sentence by lauding the fact that Hustveit confessed, adding that in the weird e-mail apology/confession letter Hustveit sent Nic Dhomhnail he even encouraged her to prosecute him. Okay. First of all, this guy is a rapist. So, whether or not he regrets it after or admitted it when confronted, he still raped a woman multiple times. Rape is still a crime, right? Second, McCarthy’s praise of Hustveit’s “remorse”/forthcomingness completely discounts the feelings and experience of the victim. Maybe he’s sorry, but that doesn’t undo the rapes and the mental and physical struggles stemming from her relationship with Hustveit that Nic Dhomhnail is still going through. This sends the message that this man’s feelings of guilt take precedence, are worth more than this woman’s actual experience of being raped. “I’m sorry” is not justice. Also, Hustveit’s telling Nic Dhomhnail that she should press charges isn’t virtuous. It’s not his decision! It’s just a screwed up way of further controlling his victim. Why have laws if the people who break them feel like they somehow have the authority to “let” the victim do something about it? If this case was about him robbing someone repeatedly over a year, no one would be patting this dude on the back for saying “oh sorry I robbed you, but you can totally press charges.”
This absurdly lenient sentence is just one example of how disgustingly mishandled rape cases tend to be, and it contributes to the perception that it’s not worth it to report sexual assault. This is an egregious miscarriage of justice. No one should have to live knowing that their rapist is allowed to go free.