Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

JULIE RAMAGE -BETRAYED BY BOURGEOIS JUSTICE

JAMES RAMAGE - SAVED BY PATRIARCHY

AS PUBLISHED IN THE MELBOURNE HERALD SUN

29 OCTOBER 2004

On 12 October I sat only metres from James Ramage and watched as his barrister Phil Dunn cross-examined the twin sister of the woman Ramage strangled and dumped in a shallow grave. It's the second time I've experienced the trial of a man who's argued he was provoked into killing the woman he loved. In 1989 I watched in disbelief as Judge George Hampel granted a defence of provocation to Peter Keogh, the violent man who stabbed my 25-year-old sister to death. The humiliation of seeing Keogh found guilty only of manslaughter and receiving less than 4 years gaol will live with me forever

Few people know much about the legal defence of provocation. It's not something lawyers share with the public. Provocation is granted to a killer when a judge believes it's not unreasonable to think an ordinary man in the circumstances might have lost control and acted violently. It's a barbaric law that allows men who kill the women they claim to love to escape a murder conviction.

No one knows what happened before Ramage grabbed his wife by the throat in the family home in Balwyn in July 2003, a month after they'd separated. She probably did say 'you just don't get, do you? I am not coming back.' The killer told police she also said 'sex with you would repulse me.' It was no secret to the family or James Ramage that his sexual demands did repulse her. But would she have repeated those words in the house that day to a man who scared her? And so what if she did? We've all said worse without expecting to be killed. On 26 August 1987 Peter Keogh told police it was the words, 'fuck off' or 'piss off'', that caused him to lose control and stab my sister multiple times when he trapped her in her car outside the kindergarten where she worked. The fact that dead women can't speak is a godsend for these killers.

If you'd seen Phil Dunn argue the provocation defence you'd understand why Julie Ramage's sister, Jane, is incensed. Watching your dead sister blamed for her 'murder' is too much for any decent person to stomach. When I suggested to Dunn in the foyer that this kind of examination belonged in Afghanistan he correctly replied 'only doing my job.'

Sadly, 'doing my job' means assassinating the character of a 'murdered' woman. For Dunn it meant stepping into Julie Ramage's private life and asking how many times she had sex with her new boyfriend and whether she loved him and was treating the new relationship as potentially serious or long term. It even meant asking the jury to consider whether tampons in the dead woman's handbag indicated she might have been pre menstrual and therefore irrational when she spoke to her husband before he killed her. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Julie Ramage was a frightened woman who tried to hide her private life from the husband she no longer loved, so as to not hurt him or make him angry. Yet when did she hide her life the defence portrayed her as a liar and a schemer. Then when she told her husband privately she wasn't coming back, what happened? He killed her.

It's an obscenity to argue that men like Keogh and Ramage and the young man who shot dead his ex girlfriend on the Monash Freeway are the victims of a woman's provocation. It's not love but power and honour - for these are really ''honour killings'' - that drives the gun, the knife and the fists. If Julie Ramage's behaviour was of the kind that might have caused an ordinary man to lose control and strangle her, no woman is safe.

As long as we offer juries the chance to blame a woman for her murder, as this jury has effectively done in handing down a manslaughter verdict, we're a party to the violence. I'm sick of writing about men, who, protected by the law of provocation, turn dead women into provocateurs in the name of 'doing their job.' It's time we changed the law, affirmed a woman's right to leave a relationship and told these men the days of blaming women for the violence of men are over.

 

 

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