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Tuesday, 18 September 2018
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Where the villain calls the tune PDF Print E-mail
By Victor Karunairajan

Some years ago a minor worker at a Christian school in north Sri Lanka was homosexually attacked by the security officer. The next morning his family, uncles and aunts assembled in front of the principal’s bungalow, stunned and traumatized by what had happened to the young man the previous night, demanding justice.

They were from a socially low-scheduled caste and had to wait out in the open. Such do not have right of entry to the homes of the upper caste; however not as bad as it used to be some decades ago. Unfortunately, the principal was away in Colombo and the poor relatives went back to their homes dejected, deflated and disappointed.

Their only hope was a quick confrontation with the school authority and some kind of action against the security officer. As they say in our community, the porridge (kanchi) that goes cold is old, beyond its effectiveness or usefulness.

A day or two later, the principal returned home and to the school office. No one knows what happened afterwards in respect of the protest of the relatives. But the security officer continued with his duties, the minor worker was dismissed. The excuse given was that he was not old enough to be employed.

If he was not old enough to be employed, so had to be sent home, some students at the school were of the same age as the worker but many more even younger. And it’s a school with a considerable population of boarding students including girls.

The security officer, an ex-serviceman was a cousin of the principal. Evidently that mattered.

In most sexual harassment cases the victim is often dependent on the one who takes improper advantage of a person’s physical endowments, sexual emotions and feelings especially if victims face high risks of security, as in a school, work places and even more in orphanages, police cells and jails. Young ones can face that risk anywhere even in homes with extended families.

Their safety depends on decency and how we bond among people who are around us. Their safety also depends on values that have high moral and ethical bearings and of course the kind of love and affection we share with each other.

No person should suffer exploitation of any kind and in this sexual exploitation is the most vulgar and sordid one; even more the trauma caused to a victim can be life-long. When this is perpetrated by one from whom a child expects protection and learns to trust, that is horrendous and unforgivable.

Those who are familiar with the novels of Charles Dickens and the era of pre-Industrial Revolution in England where children were employed in factories and mines will be familiar with the terrible privations and agonies they suffered not just the conditions of the labour but also how they were sexually violated.

Shockingly, today’s equivalent of such situations seems to be in orphanages managed mostly by individuals. Running an orphanage is a kind of big business today when one can attract overseas support and funds. What is considered overseas kindness may also have its hidden motives too, using children for baser yearnings being one.

There have been some pretty grim stories from Kerala, India about Catholic nuns sending orphans overseas under the pretext of employment but eventually the children, almost always girls, end up in pleasure homes of rich Arabs.  

What happened in an orphanage in the Eastern Province recently was an act of despicable proportions when a defenseless, dependent young lady had to flee from her virtual protector and seek refuge elsewhere. The protector was no ordinary person; he chose a profession as a saviour of souls and his orphanage gets richly funded from overseas sources that he accounts to nobody. The orphanage by itself was a refuge and if one young lady there was not safe, the question is, will others be too?

Since they are orphans can they be able to resist sexual advances and attacks when they have nowhere else to go? Even if attacked can our young females share this shame with others. No wonder in such matters the villain calls the shots.
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