Yet, as Patrick Lion reported in The Daily Telegraph yesterday this is the excuse a Victorian magistrate has accepted as a “mitigating factor” in the case of an Afghan man charged with the attempted kidnap of a four-year-old girl. Ali Jaffari, 35, had already been convicted last year of sexually molesting two boys, aged 12 and 13, at a Geelong beach. Despite the fact he showed no remorse and the prosecution wanted him jailed, Magistrate Ann McGarvie let him off with a two-year community corrections order, saying he had a low risk of reoffending.
Jaffari was back in Geelong Magistrate’s Court after he allegedly snatched a four-year-old girl at a cricket oval in Geelong last year while her father and brother were distracted. But in February Magistrate Ron Saines threw out the child stealing charge and cited “cultural differences”. In what culture is there any different view to ours, that preying on children is unacceptable? Child sexual abuse in Afghanistan might be “endemic”, as a US State department report puts it. But that doesn’t mean it is culturally acceptable, especially not to parents and children.
There is no culture on Earth in which it is normal or innocent for a stranger to molest little boys or allegedly kidnap a little girl. And, if there were, the last thing we should do is calibrate our justice system to accommodate such a despicable culture. Jaffari arrived in Australia by boat in 2010 and spent 15 months in a detention centre before being released into the community and granted a permanent protection visa at a time when the Gillard government had lost control of the borders. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is now trying to find a way to strengthen his power to cancel visas on character grounds. But there is only so much he can do if courts are going to excuse child predators on cultural grounds.