Section 116 of the Australian Constitution was formulated in the late 1800's, in a very different historical age, in a time when Australia was largely dictated to by the British Empire. Women, children and indigenous Australians were all subservient to the mighty British-come-colony male and were make virtual slaves unless they were royalty. This is no longer the case.
"50 years ago in Australia women had no political voice, few protections from poverty or harm and ...." 1 were virtually owned by men, like a horse or a pair of boots.
From the creation in 1977 of the Equal Opportunity Board and the Office of Equal Opportunity Commissioner outlawing discrimination based on marital status and gender and the adoption of the 1983 'International Bill of Rights for Women', i.e. the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) (adopted by the United Nations in 1979) "Australian women have the same rights as men" including the right to own and administer property, according to the University of NSW website 2
Now, what rights do children in Australia have? From the Australian government's own site on Human Rights 3 including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has proclaimed that
Childhood is entitled to special care and assistance Family is the natural environment for the growth and well- being of children, to have protection and assistance The child to be fully prepared for life and brought up in the spirit of the ideals of the Charter of the United Nations in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity to prepare them for an independent life The child needs special safeguards and care, including legal protection, before as well as after birth." Children living in exceptionally difficult conditions, need special consideration
These maybe quite wonderful "rights" for children, but who knows these rights? Who is following them? And who is ensuring that they are followed? Has the Australian government signed off on these rights on behalf of its citizens including religious sects in this country? And is anyone seriously protecting children from the catholic clergy?
It is interesting to see that this issue was not considered in the 2017 Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/DecreeCrimen#
LEAD: Section116 of the Australian Constitution, Jan.,1901, states that
The Commonwealth [government] shall not make any law ... for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion ...
The phrase, 'the free exercise of any religion' is open to interpretation and some religious sects, including and perhaps especially the Catholic Church, have used that particular term as a licence for including any activities of any nature that clergy deem are simply their right to "freely exercise" their religious practice. They have taken Section 116 literally to mean that they are not restricted in any way when it comes to their own behaviour and whims, regardless of the laws of the land and the impact on the lives of countless children.
Victims who have endured and survived sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in this country during the last 100+ years are outraged that the Australian Constitution would seem to endorse the exploitation of defenceless, totally powerless youngsters betrayed so mercilessly in the name of religion under Section 116.
A constant cry coming from those same victims most who are still suffering from their ordeal at the hands of Catholic clergy, is a resounding 'NO!!! This is so wrong! It has to stop...NOW!" And the most poignant comment of all as almost a unanimous, "No more children can ever be allowed to go through what we had to with the priests and the brothers and those nuns."
So many of these Forgotten Survivors eke out their sad meagre existence under tight medical supervision and seemingly endless counselling appointments. A significant number found they could not survive at all. They had wanted it all to end.
One question is: Is it right that one select elite group in our society has unlimited rights while at the same time denying a significant number of innocent children (for God's sake!) any crack of a life at all, let alone a decent one?
An even bigger question is, "What are we going to do about it?"
Our role is to get it "out there", to get others to KNOW, to THINK and take their call to action. How about this as just one part of The End: We can't wait. We can't put it off any longer. We can't ignore the urgent basic needs of our children as our children need us to rewrite Section 116 right now and stop the "freedom" the clergy now enjoy (!) in the name of religion. This is far more important than changing a nappy or filling a bottle - this CAN'T WAIT!
There are thousands of Child Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Australia, conservatively estimated to be in excess of 130,000 nationwide, and these abused children are urgently seeking a Bill of Rights specifically for minors. Such a bill would protect each and every child from sexual predators. Another option for consideration is for federal legislation to be written in stone as a matter of urgency to ensure that religious practices do not breach the Human Rights of Children.
As survivors themselves say, "This liberalism and sexual abuse cannot go on! It cannot be allowed to continue! IT HAS TO STOP ... and STOP NOW!" And they are right.
We can't wait. We cannot put it off any longer. We simply can't ignore the basic needs and rights of our children. They need us to rewrite Section 116 of Australia's Constitution immediately and so stop the "freedom" clergy currently enjoy (!) in the name of religion.