I am so pleased
that the Australian coroner has finally ruled - after thirty years - that a dingo really did
take baby Azaria Chamberlain. Her mother, Lindy, was only one in a long line of women jailed for murdering a baby when there was no proof that the baby had even been
murdered, never mind that she herself had done it.
My middle son asked why this happens and I could only answer that I simply don't know. Gut feeling says it has a lot to do with male power, and men hating women, but I think it's actually more subtle than that. This is what I think may be behind it:
(1) Barristers, judges, etc, are still of a generation that was sent away to boarding school at a very tender age. Generally it's the father who makes the final decision on this, but the mother goes along with it and so I think these people got it in their minds at the age of seven that their mother didn't want them around, that she must secretly hate them.
(2) Nowadays, to many people who don't have their own children, mothers and babies are so remote from their own daily experience that they are by definition so odd as to be practically alien. I well remember in my twenties failing so completely to understand the mindset that could want to have a baby, that when a secretary brought her baby in to show around the office, I never spoke to her again. I didn't hate her or anything; my reasoning was "I cannot begin to understand anyone wanting a baby. Therefore I cannot begin to understand anyone who is happy to have a baby. Therefore I cannot begin to understand this woman. Therefore I cannot begin to think what I might say to her."
(3) As a teenage girl doing my 'O' Levels and 'A' Levels, the subconscious message was extremely strong: bright girls do their homework, get their exams, go to University; they totally do not
get pregnant. The rather judgmental - but still subconscious - corollary therefore being: only stupid people have babies.
Thus it seems to me the stage is set for an educated person, especially a man, who was sent away to school, to have it somewhere in the back of their mind that, "Mothers are aliens who are stupid and hate their babies. Therefore if something happens to the baby, it's obvious the mother did it."
I honestly can't think of any other reason why so many people are so ready to assume - and find proven - that people like Lindy Chamberlain, Angela Weston, Sally Clark etc, murdered their own babies, without a shred of hard forensic evidence that they even were
These women were presumed guilty and had to fight the system for years to prove their innocence.