Tue | Jul 27, 2021

Letter of the Day | Society lacking empathy for sexually abused

Published:Tuesday | June 8, 2021 | 12:06 AM


The recent horrific news about young girls being sexually abused is very disturbing. and some of the reactions are even more worrying. They do not show any empathy towards the victims.

What’s the worst thing that could happen to anyone? Who knows, or decides? ‘’Who feels it, knows it.’’ I think no one has any moral or legal right to tell traumatised victims how they should feel, or to presumptuously conclude that any traumatic event is not the worst the victims could experience.

My good friend, philosopher Sean Smith observed: ‘’Feelings are the most convincing sensations.’’ We don’t doubt our feelings. How we feel regarding any occurrence is a combination and reflection of our reactions at the conscious and subconscious levels, to the pain or pleasure arising (physiological sensations), psychological manifestations, and the potential and actual consequences of social reactions.

Many victims of sexual abuse have expressed intense emotional, torture-like feelings they have endured, even becoming suicidal, because of the circumstances in which they were abused – at homes by a family member or trusted people in authority. Adding to their pains are the crude reactions of other family members and the community – rejecting legal recourse, blaming or cursing, and even throwing them out of homes. The abuse, unfortunately, in some instances continues by those with whom they sought refuge.

Recently, as reported in the media, the appeal court reduced the sentence of a man convicted of incest and reportedly noted that his case was not ‘’the worst of the worst’’. The court abided by legal principles in reducing the sentence. But in light of all the aforementioned, I find this reported comment insensitive and most unfortunate; because it could be perceived that the court was, like many in society, downplaying the severity and cruelty of this heinous crime.

Our society should show more empathy and give greater protection and support, not to the villains, but to our children and the unfortunate victims of sexual abuse.