The report at the weekend by the Algemeen Dagblad – that 60% of the 385 people convicted of sexually-abusing children last year did not go to jail – should not be a surprise to anyone. In the Netherlands, the rights of the abuser are paramount.
He – or she – has a right to privacy, so names are kept out of the papers. Your doctor, your child’s teacher, the babysitter could all have been convicted of abusing children and you will never know – until it’s too late.
Checks on people in sensitive positions are minimal, to say the least. In recent years, there have been several cases of repeat offenders still working with children… and still offending.
Still, at least we live in a democracy. Everyone can have their say. So, a party calling for the legal age of consent to be lowered to 12 attempts to stand in the elections and, legally, it’s okay. It’s good to know just how seriously freedom of speech is taken here.
The AD article referred to the case of a taxi driver in Elst who was given a six-week sentence for abusing three mentally-handicapped children. That’s certainly going to teach him a lesson.
But then, as a spokesman for the Raad voor de Rechtspraak, which represents judges, said: ’Jail can have disastrous effects such as losing a job and the break-up of a family.’ Poor dears. The heart bleeds.