First Jimmy Saville was convicted, then Rolf Harris, and now even Westminster is under the spotlight. As the deluge of high profile paedophile cases exposed in the media continues to grow I wonder how it could be that so many cases of abuse have occurred with no justice or action. Was paedophilia in some way socially accepted in 1970s UK as it was in Ancient Greece for Socrates, and still is in some cultures around the world (think of the virgin auctions and child brides across the globeand discrepancies in age of consent)?
When trying to make sense of it, I take a step back and think about the factors that link the most high profile cases. We see that there are men of power, influence and authority who have abused all those qualities to satisfy their own sexual desires. They used their reputation to commandeer a certain level of trust – amongst their friends, their colleagues and the public. A trust they then grossly abused. But why did it take so long for the truth to come out? What does it say about us as a society, and how we behave towards men of power?
If the tables were turned, and Jimmy Saville was not a celebrity but a care worker who abused his position – would it have taken so long for the truth to be exposed, and justice be done for the girls whose innocence was so selfishly stolen from them? I wonder. Likewise for Rolf Harris; is the world so different today, or do men with money and influence get away with more than those who are less rich and (by consequence) less influential?
If we want to see the end of such conduct perhaps we the public should be more open with our scrutiny, and empower the voices of those less likely to be listened to: not just children, but in many cases of sexual abuse, women. Are we more quick to judge one set of people than another? Men vs women; the rich vs the poor; the known vs the unknown. Do we find it easier to trust one group of people versus another? Men vs women; adults vs children; the educated vs the non-educated. Credibility shouldn’t relate to a person’s gender, position or wealth. Maybe we should be more open and aware about the bias that exists in us as individuals, and therefore society. Maybe fewer blind eyes will be turned if so.