From centenary to the Olympics, gang rape in Sydney

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In this article I examine the Mt Rennie outrage and the rapes involving Bilal Skaf in 2000. I note the ways in which the law responded to each case, the ways in which the media interpreted the importance of the rapes, and the significance that was accorded to each case. I do not suggest that the two cases are in any anachronistic sense 'the same'. Rather, I examine the ways in which 'society', Parliament and the Courts have dealt with shocking crimes of collective sexual violence in different periods in history. In both cases I perceive a political response in which the general tendency has been to look outside mainstream 'society' to locate the 'faces of evil' responsible for the barbaric attacks (Wockner 2002a: 1). While Mt Rennie and Bial Skaf pose different prOblems, the former being perceived as a danger from within (the white natives) and the latter as a threat from beyond (the Lebanese menace), in both cases the problem of gang rape was identified as a problem of the rapists' 'communities', rather than of the greater society in which they resided. In both, the threat of the rapists has been depicted and understood as the threat of 'them' to 'our' culture. As such, the opportunity to understand and address a general sexual hatred was forsaken in favour of demonising a subculture of young men as abhorrent, barbaric and of a deviant minority community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-201
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Issues in Criminal Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Mt Rennie outrage, 1886
  • larrikins
  • Bilal Skaf
  • Lebanese gangs
  • barbarians


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