Wednesday, August 8, 2012



This morning, the photo above was posted on Facebook by a contact of mine. I blinked twice, enlarged the picture, and my stomach turned. What the heck is this? Where was it taking place? And most of all, why were all the people, including children, standing around and ... smiling? Yes, smiling! What is pleasant about looking at a young boy being goaded on to do what this child is doing? And just who is that woman and that man? His parents? I couldn't believe my eyes. 

The poster's purpose was not, thank heaven, to titillate but to suggest that  the only thing children who are exposed to this kind of thing will learn is sexual misconduct, along with developing a very poor appreciation of a woman's role in society (what else is new!) and a confusing concept of their own purpose in life. I couldn't agree more. But then, after a barrage of responses from others as shocked as I was, came a response that suggested this was part of that culture and that they did not see it as something wrong. That commentator suggested this is not so much "sexual abuse" as "sexual misconduct". Be that as it may, is it okay? I think not!

Sadly, that same commentator, who incidentally did not condone what was happening in the photo but was trying to explain why it happens, indicated there was nothing anyone could do about it. This was a "culture thing". She said it's just like girls being stoned for bringing dishonour to the family in the middle east: it's a culture thing. Therefore, we can do nothing about it. Really?!

Saying we can do nothing about abuse of any kind is, for me,  condoning the abuse. Despite there being "nothing we can do", how gratifying it is to those of us outside those cultures to read that that Shafilea's parents were convicted for her death. (She had brought dishonour to the family... groan!) Would they have gotten their just desserts if her sister hadn't finally found the courage to speak up and tell the court what really happened? No, they would have gotten away with murder, just as those of us who suffered incest and sexual abuse for years allowed our violators, many of whom were parents and relatives, to get away with what they were doing. Remember, silence is consent.

As long as we adhere to the view that "there's nothing we can do about it" or are too afraid to face the horrid memories or too ashamed to tell others about it, we live under a rock of silence that buries us deeper year after year. We cannot and must not do that to ourselves. We must come OUT FROM UNDER and speak up, share our stories with the world. There are so many like us! Perhaps all they need is a nudge ... a nudge that comes from blogs like this one, or El's blog HERE to begin to open up and get that 10-ton rock off their chests. 

I'm doing it. You can too. Help others do for themselves what must be done if they are to move on and become whole again. On the upper right hand side of this blog I have posted a poll that asks the question: "What is holding you back from talking about your own incest story?" Multiple answers are allowed. This is not a contest. It's merely a poll. Your identity remains a secret. Tell us why you aren't COMING OUT FROM UNDER. Thanks for participating.

I'd also love to hear your comments on the photo above. Do you think "culture" justifies what you see there? 

1 comment:

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