It’s lunch time at King’s Cross in Sydney. There’s a couple walking along, hand in hand, laughing and looking in shops. He’s tall with a head full of thick, grey hair. Light eyes and fair skin. He’s smoking. He looks about 45 years old. The girl with him is young. Dark skin, dark eyes and long dark hair all the way to her bum. She looks a little bit Asian, but her nationality isn’t clear. She’s wearing a denim mini skirt, lip gloss and a small, red, studded shoulder bag skims her exposed thigh. She clutches his arm as they walk and every now and then he pulls her to him and kisses her cheek. She giggles when he whispers things in her ear. She looks about 15.
Do you see anything wrong with that picture?
The cops on the street did. Young, underage sex-workers make good business at the Cross. And they make that business with older guys. So the cops intervened.
They stopped the couple in the street and much to the protests of the man, they separated them to question them. The young girl looked scared but she answered all the questions honestly as she watched the man from afar try to defend himself. He was mad. He was outraged. And he was loud. Most people went about their business, but plenty stopped to see what was happening. The girl was mortified. She was confused. She was embarrassed. But mostly she was deeply offended. So she squared her, not 15 but 11 year old, shoulders and said “That’s my dad”
Did the cops do the right thing?
It was this article on Mamamia this week that reminded me of that day. Of how it’s easy to misread a situation at face value. I couldn’t understand how the police could possibly think that I was a prostitute or that my dad was one of ‘those’ guys. It was a very special outing for us and I was thrilled to be out and about in my school holidays. My mum had bought me a brand new handbag that, until then, I was so proud to wear. I had always looked older than my years and I felt bad for that on that day. I felt as though I had invited the judgement into our innocent world. I felt guilty and I felt mad for a long time [and my dad was seething] But now, as a woman and as a mum, I’m glad that happened. I know I didn’t do anything wrong and I think the police did the right thing too.
Has something you have done ever been grossly misjudged?