Best-selling author Colleen McCullough said six men found guilty of a string of sex attacks on Pitcairn Island were following a Polynesian custom of having sex with young girls and called their convictions "an absolute disgrace," a newspaper reported yesterday. \nMcCullough, the author of the 1977 international best seller The Thorn Birds, lives on Australia's Norfolk Island, a former penal colony that is home to a number of Pitcairn Island descendants. \nLate last month, six Pitcairn men were convicted of rapes and sex attacks dating back as far as 40 years on the remote island, which is located midway between New Zealand and South America and is home to descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Polynesian wives. \n"They are as much Polynesian as anything else," McCullough told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. "It's Polynesian to break your girls in at 12." \nMcCullough said the UK-led rape trials were "an absolute disgrace" and should not have interfered with local customs. \n"These are indigenous customs and should not be touched," she said. "It's hypocritical too. Does anybody object when Muslims follow their customs? Nobody's afraid of 50 Polynesians, but they are very afraid of a million Muslims," McCullough said. \nBut Karen Willis, a rape crisis counselor, said child rape is not an accepted practice in any culture. \n"This is just one of those myths," she said. "It's not a cultural thing. It's about patriarchy and male power." \nWillis said some societies do initiate children into sexual relations at a young age, but celebration and ritual are key. \n"In Pitcairn it was done in secrecy, and that's one of the main differences between sexual assault and normal sexual relations," she said. \nChildren who experience sexual assault often develop depression, phobias, flashbacks and panic attacks as adults, Willis said.
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
Japan’s Mount Aso erupted yesterday, spewing a giant column of ash thousands of meters into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan, which sent rocks flying in a dramatic blast captured by nearby CCTV cameras. People were warned not to approach the volcano as it ejected hot gas and ash as high as 3,500m, and sent stones tumbling down its grassy slopes. Authorities were checking if any hikers had been trapped or injured, officials told local media, as TV footage showed dozens of vehicles and tour buses
‘AVOIDABLE SITUATION’: After being tortured in his home country, a Sri Lankan and his family are at risk of deportation from the UK, despite his academic fellowship A scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the British Home Office. Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, his wife, Sharmila, 42, and their three children, aged 13, nine and five, went to the UK in 2018 after Muhunthan, who is working on thin-film photovoltaic devices used to generate solar power, was given a prestigious Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship. The award allowed him to reside to the UK for two years to research and develop the technology. His wife obtained a job caring for
A top global law firm is no longer representing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in seeking the removal of a Tiananmen memorial from its campus after it came under heavy criticism in the US for helping China purge dissent, the Washington Post reported. Mayer Brown is the latest international company to face pressure over how its actions in China contradict its more progressive statements in the West. The 8m high Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot has stood on HKU’s campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China. It features 50 anguished faces and tortured