Instead of jail time, a remorseless man who had groomed and attempted to rape a young girl was promptly released. Disturbingly, it was his excuse for pursuing children that convinced the judge to free him.
When 21-year-old Mustafa Naseri arrived in Australia, his new home was a significant change from his life in Afghanistan. Everything from the laws to cultural norms diverged from that of the ultra-orthodox Islamic nation. Unfortunately, this proved that it was only a matter of time before the migrant would find himself in trouble with the law.
As millions of refugees and migrants flood the borders of Western nations, countries are scrambling to implement a plan for dealing with the influx. While housing, food, and processing are the most immediate necessities, long-term issues such as cultural disparities are leading to rampant crime as the justice system struggles to keep up.
News.com.au reports that Naseri was arrested after attempting to groom for sexual purposes an individual he believed to be a minor child. An undercover police officer posing as a 14-year-old girl received numerous illicit messages from Naseri via the Kik social media app. Through these conversations, the migrant expressed a disturbing fascination with very young girls.
Naseri reportedly requested pictures of the child and asked her if she had reached puberty yet. The conversations eventually turned sexual with Naseri asking to meet the child and engage in sexual activity with him. When he arrived at a railway station in Adelaide to meet his fantasy girl, he was disappointed to find a team of officers there to make his arrest.
Naseri ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of child grooming but seemingly expressed no remorse for his actions. Instead, he went on to defend trying to coerce a minor child into having sex with him. Disturbingly, his reasoning was enough for the judge to spare him from jail.
Judge Geraldine Davison declined to jail Naseri, offering him a 2-year good behavior bond and ordering him to attend therapy or counseling. A good behavior bond is similar to probation, requiring only that the convicted person demonstrate non-criminal behavior for the specified time. Judge Davison defended the sentence by referring to Naseri’s difficult upbringing and cultural differences.
“You did not understand that there was a barrier in relation to this because you understood in your culture an age gap was the norm, but you said you were really looking for someone to engage in a sexual relationship with,” Judge Davison told him in sentencing. “You had, in your own mind, justified the fact that if the girl had reached puberty, then that would not be as bad as if she was very young.”
While Judge Davison admitted that Naseri understood that his actions were morally reprehensible, she excused the behavior by stating that his offenses weren’t as serious as others because there was no actual victim. She also took into account the fact that Naseri’s home country allows men to engage in sexual activity with children of all ages through child marriage.
An expert psychologist agreed the behaviour was partly “underpinned by (Naseri’s) possession of cultural and traditional beliefs about children and marriage.”
In Afghanistan, there is no official age of consent. All that is legally required by the Sharia legal system is that participants be married. Of course, even this stipulation is often overshadowed by the system’s legal loopholes, which leaves children particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse.
Naseri’s case has been seen by many as a recognition of a foreign legal system’s standards. Judge Davison seemed to grant leniency due to the convicted party’s adherence to beliefs and actions that are not protected and are, in fact, criminalized by Australian legislation.
The most disturbing aspect of the case is that Mustafa Naseri never once expressed remorse or enlightenment of his wrongs but evaded jail nonetheless. Instead, the only difference is that he now cannot claim ignorance that child rape is illegal.