A five-year-old boy has been “brutally gang-raped” on a remote beach by a group of children all under 13 years of age before the alleged victim was rushed to hospital with horrific injuries.
The attack was unfolded at Napranum, on the north-west coast of Cape York in Queensland on July 1, the police alleged.
After the incident at the remote beach in an Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, the four boys accused of the rape have been taken into custody, while the 800-strong community has banned them from returning to the town, Mail Online quoted The Australian as reported.
The alleged attack was so violent the five-year-old required emergency medical treatment and was airlifted to Cairns Hospital, some 800km away, report said.
Community members said the disturbing allegations have torn several families apart and reopened wounds from a shocking sex crime that happened 15 years earlier.
‘There are big arguments about how this happened,’ one local said.
‘It is creating big problems in the town. It is not the first time something like this has happened.’
The neighbouring community of Aurukun, about 40km south of Napranum, was at the centre of nationwide outrage in 2006 when a 10-year-old girl was gang raped by nine men aged between 13 and 25.
The young girl was born to an alcoholic mother and suffered from a mild intellectual disability.
Although the men all pleaded guilty to a litany of sexual offences, the judge spared them jail time and said the victim ‘probably agreed’ to have sex with them.
She ruled the men were also victims themselves after growing up deprived and subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of others in their community.
No convictions were recorded in the horrifying case, sparking fury across Australia.
Then Prime Minster Kevin Rudd expressed his anger at the court’s decision at the time.
‘I’m disgusted and appalled by the reports that I’ve seen in today’s newspapers on this case,’ Mr Rudd said.
‘My attitude of violence towards women and children, including sexual violence towards women and children, is one of zero tolerance.’
Due to the young age of the alleged offenders in Napranum, police can use their discretion to determine how they proceed with prosecution.
Ten is the age an offender can be found guilty of a crime, but if a child under 13 commits an offence police can issue a caution.
Another option is restorative justice – a tactic commonly used in Indigenous communities – which normally involves extensive counselling, a mediated meeting with the victim’s family and an apology to the victim.
The alleged Napranum gang rape is the latest of a series of horrifying cases in remote Aboriginal communities.
A 27-year-old man was sentenced to 13 years in prison in March for raping a two-year-old girl in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory while her mother was sleeping in a crime that shocked Australia.
The toddler suffered severe internal injuries in the 2018 attack and had to be flown to an Adelaide hospital where she underwent a blood transfusion.
Such incidents have raised concerns about child safety in remote Indigenous communities.
In 2016, a Griffith University study headed by Professor Stephen Smallbone examined the prevalence of sexual abuse in Indigenous North Queensland communities.
It found sex crimes in Aurukun were occurring at a rate 6.6 times higher than the rest of Queensland, with the average age of victims just 14.
The report also revealed that sexually transmitted diseases were spreading at an alarming rate.
Syphilis infections were detected to be 56 times above the state average.
The report found 29 children younger than 10 had contracted the sexually transmitted disease.