First it was Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall. Now as we’re all reeling from Rolf Harris’ conviction we learn that there’s be an investigation into an alleged paedophile ring in Parliament and judiciary where judges, MPs and peers will be investigated. The bad news- that any number of children have allegedly been sexually abused in the last few decades by the famous and powerful just keeps coming. Should we be shocked?
The 1970’s- “that post-Pill, pre- Aids era”, by all accounts, was a time of sexual freedom and promiscuity- for both men and women. The whole “Carry-On”, “How’s your father?” culture allowed people to get away with a lot: behaviour that today would not be tolerated and even considered sexually deviant. Society tolerated crude jokes (think: Barbara Windsor with her boobs out every five minutes in pretty much every Carry On film) We even thought of it as entertainment! It seems lines of conduct and acceptable behaviour were totally blurred. And sadly the idea that children were victims within that all- well back then no one talked about it, but it seems there were those who indulged in it.
As a mum, I just feel more and more disappointed at the thought that there could be so many abuse victims out there. Those who have had their dignity and innocence taken away and had to live with the quiet humiliation and shame ever since.
Shame. That’s something that the Asian culture majors on. The honour/shame culture is big in our community. One of the issues that the Savile case brought to light was that victims were, at the time, too ashamed to speak out. They were afraid that no one would take them seriously or believe their allegations against a then big name TV personality. How much more then will victims of abuse in the Asian community not be able to speak out against the uncle, cousin or even father who abused them? Who in our community wants to bring shame on themselves and their family by saying they were abused? But it happens- abuse happens everywhere. It’s one thing when a public office is being investigated, but what about when it happens behind closed doors? In a community where falling in love with someone from the ‘wrong’ religion, race or community is considered shameful, how on earth do we then talk about behaviour that is truly shameful, like child sex abuse?
As I sit here and think about that, I’m at a loss as to how to answer it. All I know is that victims have the right to be listened to and taken seriously- without the fear of bringing shame. And what’s more, they have the right to move on with their lives without having to bear that shame forever.