It is repulsive to victim blame child sexual abuse survivors and call them “aggressors” in their own assault and yet it isn’t a rarity. Even those who are assigned with the task to protect us and ensure survivors of sexual crimes get justice aren’t immune to harbouring such thoughts. This leads to grievous consequences like acquittal or reduced sentence of predators. Such outcomes are not only demoralising to brave survivors who come forward, but many others who are still trying to gather the courage to speak up. Above everything else, it lets sexual predators off the hook easy, thereby endangering many more children.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • A judge in the US recently reduced a 67-year-old sexual predator’s sentence by partly putting the blame on the survivors of the crime.
  • Even in one of the most progressive countries, there is no escape from victim shaming. 
  • How is it fair to put the onus of blame on a child, knowing that he or she has been manipulated?
  • The culpability in cases of child sexual abuse must strictly and singularly lie with the culprits and not the victims.

Just how could a person, a judge nonetheless, resort to victim blaming two kids?

A judge in the US recently reduced a 67-year-old sexual predator’s sentence by partly putting the blame on the survivors of the crime aged 13 and 14, reports BBC. The judge said that the minor girls went to the accused’s house voluntarily and had taken money for sexual favours. “They were certainly selling things monetarily that it’s against the law for even an adult to sell.” He also added that, “the victims in this case, in particular, were more an aggressor than a participant in the criminal conduct.” This stunning verdict has shaken child rights activists around the world, as to how could a judge resort to victim blaming two kids?

In reducing the accused’s sentence this judge has set forth a dangerous statement. That even in one of the most progressive countries, there is no escape from victim blaming. Even if the survivors are kids. It is a very common modus operandi among sexual predators to condition their victims into seeing sex as a favour. Something which will either put you in someone’s good books or earn you money, gifts or anything that you desire. They manipulate young boys and girls into seeing their act as harmless and normal. No one walks away as a loser from this interaction, so how could it be bad? This manipulative reasoning forms the basis of so many cases of abuses.

That some people fail to see and recognise it, thus putting a part of the blame on survivors, makes them equally culpable here.

How is it fair to put the onus of blame on a child, knowing that he or she may have been manipulated? Children of a certain age aren’t mature enough to make certain decisions for themselves. Having consensual sex is one of them. Which is why we have an age of consent. Just because the girls took money willingly doesn’t shift the onus of the act from the predators on his victims here. No, he is liable to strictest possible punishment. Because he not only abused two girls, but also lured them into believing that it was okay to have sex with an adult for money. Yes, soliciting sex is a crime, but among adults, who know what they are doing. Rules meant for adults cannot be applied for young children, especially to favour predators.

There are many aspects of victim blaming in our society. The only one to benefit from each and every one of them are the predators. Everyone else; the victims, the society and even the judicial system emerges as a loser here. This man would be serving lesser years in jail than he should. He would be out on the streets again, knowing that he can get away with offering money to children in exchange of sex. This is a disturbing thought to live with. It should fill us all with guilt. So that we ensure that no other predator is able to piggyback on our prejudices and emerge free.

Picture Credits: IndiaTimes

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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