Every week we hear and read about sexual abuse of minors, People living with Disability, and other vulnerable members of our society.
What will it take to end this madness? We salute all the men and women out there who work tirelessly everyday to give hope to the helpless and be the voice of the voiceless.
This week we feature a compelling piece in which the writer urges us to remember (in our efforts to protect the vulnerable from sexual abuse) those with impaired cognitive function, for they too suffer greatly at the hands of sexual predators.
PROTECTING THE MENTALLY CHALLENGED
As we endeavor to not forget let us likewise endeavor to remember the forgotten few, whose voices often go unheard. I am of course referring to those with one or other form of mental deficiency.
It is important for us to think of them, and how we and the law can and should protect them from sexual abuse.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the Penal Code of Botswana, below is Section 148 of the Penal Code: 148.
“Defilement of idiots or imbeciles. Any person who, knowing another person to be an idiot or imbecile, has or attempts to have unlawful carnal knowledge of that person under circumstances not amounting to rape, but which prove that the offender knew at the time of the commission of the offence that the person against whom the offence was committed was an idiot or imbecile, is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, with or without corporal punishment.”
Like it or not, it is inherently immoral, and perhaps even evil, to take advantage of anybody with impaired cognitive function.
When one has a mental deficiency, there is often a tendency to dismiss them far too easily when they wish to speak up, however, we should work towards correcting this, as a nation.
We should ensure that the full weight of the law protects those for whom the protection was created.
It is important to remember that a person, who is no longer a minor, and has not developed the necessary mental faculties to make informed decisions, may consent to sexual relations with another person, without understanding the full implications of their decision.
Additionally such a person may at times be influenced into making a decision that they would ordinarily not make of their own volition, yet they may not be aware of such a manipulation.
Not forgetting is a good thing, but only so long as what is not being forgotten is the right thing.
What is the point in not forgetting a portion of those who are vulnerable to abuse when we do not remember all of the vulnerable?
I cannot see why we should have a selective memory, nor can I justify being selective.
If we are to have even the slightest chance at reaching a point where we have zero abuses or offences of a sexual nature, we first have to ensure that we, as society, protect all vulnerable people as best we can.
One thing we always forget to remember, is the fact that every human behaviour has a root cause.
By seeking for and finding the root cause/s of offences of a sexual nature, and other undesirable human behaviours, we put ourselves in a position to address these behaviours, and to find a true remedy, or corrective force, with the intention of removing the root cause, or perhaps inhibiting the mental processes which lead a perpetrator from root cause to undesirable action.
I Shall Not Forget.
– By Tjibuya Dabutha, Guest Writer