SEXUAL ABUSE

A serious debate that unites or a shouting match that divides?

a-serious-debate-that-unites-or-a-shouting-match-that-divides

On many issues, a head-on political collision, based on party affiliation, is expected and, at times, can be even useful. On others, such as natural disasters, there could be a greater understanding among the different parties, but, even here, when disaster management is itself a disaster, a political clash is justifiable.

The case of the 2018 Mati wildfire is an exemplary one. As is that of snowstorm Medea, with agencies and government officials trading accusations, and which seems certain to leave its own palpable political bruises.

At the same time, we demand from political parties a modicum of consultation and consensus on certain issues, as in, for example, those having to do with national security. And even though we still see confrontations on such issues, in general, politicians seek common ground, though often not to the extent some of us would like.

But there is a field where there should be not only consensus, but unanimity; it is fighting sexual crimes, especially the most heinous among them, pedophilia.

The revelations made in recent weeks, and which will certainly keep coming, do not have a party stamp and should not divide. On the contrary, all must be united in their total condemnation and calls for the most severe punishment possible for the people responsible.

There can be no excusing or footnoting such crimes; only disgust and anger, from everyone. Whether from the left, the right or the center, everyone must demand that everything comes to light and for justice to do its part.

In politics, the opposition is justified to highlight the issue, but soberly, without unfounded excesses. It is the duty of all political parties to cooperate in fighting such unhealthy phenomena.

Denounced criminal behavior must be examined by the judicial system, obviously without trampling on the presumption of innocence. Resolving a case is everyone’s duty to the victims, even more so when they are minors. If there are people who knew, but chose not to speak, they will have contributed to these monstrous deeds.

Thursday’s Parliamentary debate should be substantive. Any political liability – such as appointing accused actor-director Dimitris Lignadis to the helm of the National Theater without adveritsing the post, or dithering when accusations surfaced – should be probed, the prime minister must take the blame for the unfortunate handling of the case by his culture minister, the opposition leader should not resort to populism and tactics worthy of the basest of media.

They should be united in seeking actions and remedies that will prevent sexual crimes, to the extent this is possible, and will punish them when the occur. What is important is to protect the victims and make their voices heard. That is what the political leaders should debate and they should be judged on their demeanor and sincerity.

Will this serious, profound debate free of name-calling take place and thus help lay the foundation for better dealing with an extremely dangerous phenomenon? Unfortunately, we observers of good faith have every reason to doubt it.