Saturday, April 28, 2012

What has become of the social dimension in the santiy discussion?

Discussions about the sanity in criminal cases is in great focus for the time being in Norway. Is a man who has killed 77 innocent people sane or not? Should he be punished or treated with psychological therapy? Scholars disagree and the debate is difficult to understand for many outsiders. I have worked with sex offenders and their victims for many years and met the same attitudes in society as in the current terrorist case in Norway. My question is "what has become of the social dimension in the santiy discussion?" Let me reflect on this question by drawing upon sex crimes as an example. 

It is very common to explain a sexual criminals as being so-called mentally ill. "He / she must be completely insane" -is a very common reaction. "He / she is mentally ill, he/she had no ability to control him-/herself, he / she could not help it." The difficulty with such statements is that they deprive the person a responsibility for their action. There are of course elements of the mental, emotional, and relationship problems in this. Often, defense lawyers also try to highlight elements of a difficult childhood as mitigating circumstances during a trial, however, perceiving sexual abuse of children only as a result of an individual psychological state of being allows the roots to this tremendous crime to grow deeper and stronger. The basis for this behavior has also to do with a value system associated with sexuality in our society and attitudes towards what is good or bad, feminine or masculine behavior.

In relation to the last statement the following statement can be of interest. A magazine in the United States called Single Life-the interactive magizine for Wisconsin and Illinois published an article entitled: "What I want from women." A series of structured questions were posed to men who were in the bars around the Milwakee area. Among the questions was: "What qualities are most important in women?" 

A typical response is exemplified by the following quote: "The quality I like best is the combination of innocence and seductive behavior. This is very attractive. Subject to the equally appealing is vulnerability, helplessness ...". 

Janus (1981), in his book The Death of Innocence, cites many men who he interviewed in connection with their use of child prostitutes. Many of these men turned out to be almost eager to be interviewed and far from being "ashamed" they were almost polemical in his description of his experiences.

"Everything is so much easier with children. You do not get some of that horrible sarcasm that some of these old whores come with ... I think that the whores get old very soon. I've known some girls like everything in 20 years can be both sarcastic and bitter. It's as if your life is by going beyond them, I'd rather be with someone who is at the beginning of the journey. "


"There is absolutely nothing wrong with a man gets his satisfaction wherever he wants to get it. I do no wrong. I've never done anything bad to anyone. I pay what it costs ... I like others are well aware on all the various revolutions that have taken place in the social and sexual life in the western world in the last 20 years ... I see absolutely no reason why I should feel the need to justify or defend my personal preference for very young pre-pubertal girl. " 

It is worth noting that the last subject in the interview above states his arguments connected to important civil rights and his own alleged, and in my view totally unjustified, "right" to use children for his own sexual gratification. 

It's so clear that there is an urgent need to clarify and debate the social values ​​and community values ​​that allow a likely increasing the number of adults to consider their own sexual gratification as a "right" and to regard this right as a superior mental and perhaps physical destruction of a child.Sam Janus establishes a far more important right:

"The most important right that a child has the right to develop at their own pace in their own time. Children need protection, security, much private time and in addition a kind of benign lack of management so that they can detect the even at their own pace and in pace with their peers. " 

It is up to us adults and professionals to insist that all children worldwide must be protected from adults' sexual demands, subjected to sexual violence, prostitution, pornography, rape, sexual abuse, incest. These different forms of actions and the right some adults mean they have to include children in their free sexual expression must be debated openly. 

I have more than a full understanding that this is overwhelmingly strong stuff. I can very well understand that it may seem simply too emotionally overwhelming for colleagues and the public to allow themselves to discuss it, to understand and to experience the truth about the sexual violence and abuse that surrounds us. But for change to be possible, we need to see these terrible truths in the eyes. The central and most difficult question is how we can change social norms and values ​​in sexual context? One of the first steps is to have more knowledge and to confront citizens with the destructive value system that we are all affected by, and like most of us are not even aware of. 

The truth / reality of the scope of serious crimes against children in sexual context - the whole industry of exploitation and the enormous rate of abuse - must be visible and must be seen. It is absolutely necessary that it is fully recognized before they can be reduced and perhaps one day eradicated. The protection of children against sexual abuse and exploitation is a prerequisite for the development of a society that is worth to be entered into our children's children. It must break into the cycle of sexual abuse if we are to build a future that will give each individual, adults who have children from sexual violence and abuse.

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