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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Should we tell our daughters not to trust the world?
As a mother, the news that grabbed my attention over the weekend had nothing to do with the politics that areÂ near the boiling point. It was about a boy gang rape.
A nightmare for any parent, the incident involved three boys, aged 8, 11 and 12, raping a 7-year-old girl neighbour.
The boys said they just wanted to copy the porn they saw in the Internet shop. They are now staying at a remand home where social workers have yet to decide whether they should be returned to their poor parents, who cannot provide them proper care.
The news focus is on the boys as an indicator of the moral decline in society. Nothing has been said about the need to help the girl overcome the rape trauma.
This horrifying news came on the heels of a Thammasat University sex scandal involving a male lecturer who offered a girl student better grades in exchange for oral sex.
To terrify us parents further, the newspapers told us the next day that a 4-year-old girl had been raped by her step-uncle.
These horrifying news reports have triggered several demands from so-called experts. Among them: Get tough with Internet shops. Get rid of porn. Tell parents to shape up.
This is blaming the victims.Â
Where can poor kids in Bangkok go when the government fails to give them recreational facilities?
How can poor parents keep close watch on their children when they have to struggle to make ends meet?
How can the boys know rape is a heinous crime when the hottest soap opera on TV now says rape is okay, when the law allows rapists to get away with murder by marrying the victims, and when men in authority rarely get punished for their sexual crimes?
What to do to protect our girls? I was pondering this question while waiting for my daughter in front of her ballet class.
My thoughts were broken by a shriek from a women beside me.
â€œWhat are you chewing?,â€ she shouted at her little niece who became white as paper. â€œWho gave you the sweets? Havenâ€™t I told you time and time again never to take any treats from strangers? Do you want to be drugged and never return home again?â€
Startled by her own loud voice, she turned to me and mumbled apologetically. â€œYou know how dangerous it is nowadays, donâ€™t you?"
I nodded, feeling deeply guilty. Itâ€™s wrong rob our childrenâ€™s of trust in others. But havenâ€™t I, too, told my girl not to trust the world in order to protect her?
I remember the incredible peace I felt while sitting all alone in the fields, spellbound by the world of plants when I was a little girl. Or when I was mesmerised by the ever-changing clouds in the skies as I walked home alone from school.
Would I allow my little girl to go out in the fields or to walk home alone now?
Am I robbing my girl of the precious solitude that is an important bridge to our inner self?
Sorry, love. But the way society is going now, mums have no choice.
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