By Mass L. Usuf –
It is an irony of sorts that a nation with deep buddistic roots which defacto had suspended the death sentence, is now clamouring for it. Some of the expressions of the masses aired over the national television channels demand the shooting of the accused in public at the Galle Face green. While others citing the law in the middle-eastern countries, vociferously advocate the beheading of such accused. The villagers want the accused for themselves to put him to death by torture. Who is this accused ? He is the child abuser who sexually molested and caused physical harm to Seya.
How many more angels are to be sacrificed before meaningful action is taken to address this growing social menace. The reality may be that incest, rape and paedophilia occur on a daily basis within the confines of the four walls. It is when an encounter ends with killing that we see a public revulsion. The Kotadeniyawa incident (12.09.2015) where a five year old became a victim of a maniacal sexual psychopath was the latest in a series of events.
The State has a duty to protect its citizens and especially those who are in the vulnerable category. Children do rightly and squarely fall into this classification. There is no doubt that the parents have a great responsibility in providing the environment of security for their offsprings. So does this duty devolve on the teachers at school where these innocent kids go to learn. In combination of these, there is the additional watchdog in the form of the society which also share the same responsibility of the State, the parents and the teachers.
The State’s legal machinery triggering into action is good but is not the solution. It would be like treating the symptom rather than the cause. The low number of prosecutions against the high number of violation, indicate the need to develop the jurisprudence in this area. Along with this, the State must also embark on a study to understand the several socio-cultural and psychological factors which directly or indirectly contribute to such psychopathic tendencies. While the arm of the law has to be strengthened to prevent, protect and safeguard the vulnerable, there is a compelling need for a holistic approach to this problem.
“Sexual harassment is a subtle rape…” opines Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist at the University of Washington. Sexuality is a mental condition that emanates from a basic desire of being attracted to the opposite sex. This initial desire which is natural to the psyche of every human being is generally, an often occurring and passing phenomenon. Sexual harassment is considered to be the unwelcome sexual advances by words or action. The cause may be attraction or provocative dress or behaviour of the victim. The events of sexual harassment in the public transport is no secret besides this taking place in the public and workplaces. Giving a wider interpretation to the word bribe, the courts in The Republic of Sri Lanka v. Abdul Rashak Kuthubdeen (1998, 3 SLR 107), held that the soliciting of sexual favour to execute some official action was considered a bribe under the Bribery Act of 1980.
This initial trend has the propensity to turn dangerous because it gives way to the animalistic instinct of preying. Being a sexual predator can be tough. Preys though easy to find cannot be pounced upon due to lack of opportunistic circumstances. As an outlet for the accumulated desire, some are not economically capable to solicit the facility of the oldest profession. An easy target, an opportunistic moment, an innocent victim, a helpless person are all the indications that this stalking predator will be looking for. Like innocent Seya, you and I are also not aware that there is a stalker waiting to strike. The moment the defences are relaxed the predator pounces resulting in a horrendous saga.
The arrest and bringing to justice only helps to strike out one name in a list of sexual predators still continuing to stalk his victim. The State has to focus its attention to the 24/7 sexual stimulation that is out there. Like the old adage that there is no smoke without a fire, one of the significant reasons for abnormal sexual behaviour is the constant and consistent sexual stimulation of the human mind visually.
Let us take the dresses that women wear. One wonders if most women are in fact wearing a dress at all. So hugged to the body are the cloths they wear that the entire curvature of the body is artistically depicted to the onlooker. The blouses some wear are deep cut such that the cleavage of the breast is clearly visible. The blouse is meant to cover the breasts of the woman but the fashion is to uncover as much area of the breast. These woman are like semi-nude exhibits of a mobile nude exhibition inviting undue attention towards themselves.
Some daily doses of eroticism can be found in the Indian movies both hindi and tamil with their semi nude, titillating and sexually suggestive dance sequences. The TV soap operas of the formerly ‘Dynasty’ style, where infidelity is openly spoken and discussed about are no exceptions. Consequently, desensitizing the dignity of fidelity. The refrain of a majority of songs, it seems should necessarily have the cry of ‘adaraye’ for it to be complete. Watch a movie especially the tamil and hindi movies, the theme generally is violence, love, rape, sexual harrassment and such ‘masalas’. What is the ethical and moral message that is being transmitted to the growing up kids. As for adults, are not they on an overdose of erotics.
Add to this ‘masala’, pornography and other sexually explicit contents that is easily accessible via the net. The availability of child pornography. The ‘adults only’ movies on the silver screen and in other formats that are relished by many.
Jane D. Brown writing to the Journal of Sex Research on ‘Mass media influences on sexuality’, quotes, “Exposure to stereotypical images of gender and sexuality in music videos has been found to increase older adolescents’ acceptance of non-marital sexual behavior and interpersonal violence (Greeson & Williams, 1986; Kalof, 1999)”. Another research on undergraduates concludes, “uncontrolled exposure to mass media and Internet could negatively influence the sexual patterns and behavior of youths.” (Effect of mass media and Internet on sexual behavior of undergraduates, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health). Studies in schizophrenic psychosis show that the inhibition placed on the ability to emotionally respond to these sex stimulants, results in brooding quietness and ‘imaginativeness’. The subject lives in a world of fantasy.
These are the elements of destruction of society in the name of art, talent and modernity. Destruction is courted in many ways one of which is found in the way Seya Sadewmi, the little angel, paid the ultimate price. Our negligence, as adults is the cause of that child’s death.
Among the other possible solutions, the State should have strict censorship of the content in the TV channels, movies, serials and advertisements. Regulate the internet restricting access to sexually explicit materials. Educate the masses of the potential dangers of being exposed to the freely available erotics. The private media must act proactively in stemming the flow of sexual stimulants through their channels. As part of their social responsibility the media must allocate quality time to discuss these social evils. The State should also develop a mechanism to subject the accused to a mental health facility for diagnosis and treatment where relevant.