Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Garth Rattray | Sex crimes permanently scar victims

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Since a senior reverend was accused of having sexual intercourse with an underage female, there has been a lot of talk about paedophilia. However, strictly speaking, the pastor is not accused of being a paedophile because he did not have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent child (usually thought of as less than 13 years old). The pastor is accused of having sexual intercourse with a (15 year old) minor who, by law, is not old or mature enough to consent to such an act.

Many have taken the opportunity to draw a parallel between paedophiles and homosexuals. It has been said that some adults are hard-wired to experience sexual urges for prepubescent children and that, in similar fashion, some appear to be hard-wired to experience sexual urges for the same sex. Ostensibly, therefore, since we can't control our negative desires, the 'sin' comes into it when we act on them.

If two same-sex consenting adults harbour mutual amorous feelings for one another, as far as I am concerned, that should be their business; it's between them and their God. On the other hand, taking selfish advantage of an underage child is horribly wrong in every way.




But what strikes me about this current situation is the paucity of concern regarding the effect on the child. There is good reason to set a legal age for sexual consent. A child's brain develops in different ways at different times. There is some cultural input. In some societies, and especially way back in history, it was common for 14-year-olds to start having children of their own. The average lifespan of human beings was significantly shorter than it is today. In many societies, most people died in their forties. There was a biological urgency about procreation, but things are different now.

In most modern-day societies, children are expected to go through developmental phases to enhance their chances of having 'normal' and productive lives. Engaging in sexual intercourse too early throws a huge spanner in the works and sets the child on a variant developmental path. From the vantage point of an adult committing such an act, it is blatantly predatory and is deservedly classified as a form of rape (sexual intercourse against one's will since, in this case, the minor is deemed psychologically incapable of giving consent).

Many years ago, I witnessed the catastrophic sequel of an adult having sexual relations with an underage teenage girl. I vividly recall one particular girl who related to me her past tribulation. She was one of those Jamaicans that I like to jokingly call, 'half everything'. She was half-African, half-Indian, half-Asian and half-Caucasian. A true mixed breed with all racial features represented. Her parents' landlord found her attractive and her ridiculously naive mother had a habit of leaving her little, defenceless daughter in the care of this older, grey-top, grey-back and grey-front man while she went to get the weekly groceries.




One would think that there have been enough stories of older men, sometimes even family members, taking advantage of innocent little girls, but no supposedly sensible parents keep making the same stupid mistakes ad infinitum. So, this little girl had sex forced upon her by this big man, every week. There was the usual threat to ensure her silence and the usual 'brainwashing' to make her believe that she was an equal partner in the sordid 'affair'.

Racked with guilt, scorched by 'sin', bereft of her self-esteem and self-worth, she set herself helplessly and aimlessly adrift on the stormy sea that her life had become. Nothing really mattered much any longer. She felt badly let down by her silly mother, who left her up to a worthless repeat rapist. She had become a mere shadow of her former self. Her dreams had all become nightmares. As far as she was concerned, her life was already over before it even began. She was just existing, constantly tortured by horrible memories of an ever-present past.

Some girls become promiscuous, some chronically depressed, and others retreat and cocoon themselves into an impenetrable, protective shell for life. Either way, devastation always ensues. We need to highlight the plight of the victims of such crimes, help them and stop focusing on the reprobate offenders.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and