The social pitfalls of #METOO

Disclaimer: I am female and I do not condone sexual abuse in any shape or form. As an avid feminist in my teenage years, I still carry the flame of female pride and believe in absolute gender equality.

Female power has never before seemed so able to make changes in a society that desperately needs it. Seeing so many prominent women in society standing up, standing together for female rights and justice has been truly inspiring. I hope that it will affect long lasting change in our society as a whole.

That being said, I am disappointed and shocked as a human being, and a female, by the methods being used to oust alleged sexual offenders.

Gone are the days it seems where you first go to the police, they investigate, and then the case goes to court. Nowadays, it first goes to the court of public opinion. Allegations of sexual abuse are being posted far and wide on social media, implicating various males of sexual misconduct in various shapes and forms…and that seems enough for society to condemn them.

What has been the driving factor for this public naming and shaming? Is our police force still unsympathetic to sexual assault victims laying charges? Is the justice system not adequately able to deal with these cases?

At times it seems that justice is not the objective…but rather public humiliation and identification of a man the accuser believes deserves it.

The reality of our society is that not only men commit crimes, otherwise we would not need female prisons. As a society we have good men and bad men…and equally we have good women and bad women. As much as the #metoo movement has empowered victims to stand up and speak out, it has created a platform for abuse, the very thing it is fighting against. In our fight for rights as females, we should not disregard the rights of the other half of society.

We were all shocked at the extent of sexual abuse in our society, we were outraged and sympathetic to the victims. So much so that the moment a male was identified on social media as a possible sexual offender, he would be ostracised and publicly condemned. We played judge and jury and imposed our sentence.

What gives us the right? Do we know all the facts? Do we know both parties involved? Did it even happen?

As a health care provider who has handled sexual assault cases, I can testify that the female is not always the victim. Motives for opening rape cases range from legitimate assault cases, yet some are for revenge, some for money that could arise from a settlement, attention seeking from the very male being accused, some simply out of spite due to a poor relationship. At times her accusations would’ve been broadcasted to half her friends and acquaintances, and if the accused is prominent in society, it would’ve spread even further. How I wish the cases would reach court so that I can testify to the facts that were imparted to me by the very victim laying the charge. Sadly, not all cases reach court, for various reasons. Yet the rumours remain.

Sexual assault is never ok – it can never be condoned. Victims should be treated with sensitivity and respect. Yet sometimes, not often, the person making the accusations is not the victim.

A reputation ruined is very difficult, if not impossible to restore. A guilty man does not have my sympathy, but an innocent one does. Sadly, I cannot say with full confidence that our justice system is able to correctly distinguish the two. In cases where the accused has been found innocent, society as a whole doesn’t change their opinions as quickly and easily as they initially formed them.

Sexual abuse and gender inequality are wrong in all its shapes and forms. We should all be advocates in the fight against it. We should be just as avid advocates in our fight for justice for all victims, in whatever shape or form they may come.

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