The moral high ground is really a swamp of deception

Credit: Kevin Stent/Stuff

In this article, it explicitly says:

[…]Andrew Kirton, the Labour Party’s general secretary, said he stood by the way the party had handled the situation, which he said was done with a “victim-led” focus on the back of advice from a Wellington sexual violence charity.[…]

But in this article it explicitly says:

[…] Labour’s decision not to tell victims’ parents or police about alleged sexual assault at its summer camp came from internal processes, not advice from experts.

Kirton said the party did not tell police, the victims’ parents, the prime minister, or other senior Labour Party MPs in order to keep the circle small, and not risk further distress to the victims.

Kirton said the decision to take this “victim-led approach” was based on the Labour Party’s and Young Labour’s internal processes for dealing with these sorts of incidents. It was not based on advice from experts.[…]

It seems they can’t keep the lies straight.

But, what I am most interested in is the unilateral decision made by “those in charge” that the circle of “those who knew” should be kept small to “protect” the alleged victims.

The default position seems to be that what is best for the victim is silence. Keep quiet. Don’t tell anyone. Why not?

Why is it that our go-to reaction is to hide this abhorrent behaviour to “protect” the victims?

Once a crime has been committed, it’s a little late for protection. So, why keep quiet? If you are a victim of a sexual assault, it is not your fault, and there is nothing to be ashamed about.
But, in hiding the truth, by keeping something secret we are, by default, perpetuating shame. The implicit message is that something not talked about is something to feel bad about.
There is an enormous power in knowing the truth, and in telling the truth.

During an assault, the perpetrator has the power. Once the crime has been committed, the victim has the power. They know the truth about what has happened and have the ability to open the lid, to bring to justice, to hold accountable. The only person who should be fearful, and who should be ashamed in the aftermath, is the perpetrator.

So, why do we assume that the victim would want silence?

We could expect victims to be mad as hell. They have every right to be. In which case they could be wanting to shout about it from the rooftops, letting everyone know what happened and who the perpetrator is so that they can be dealt with properly by the legal system. If we expect victims to feel ashamed and to hide their injustice, then that is what will prevail. We need to change the narrative.

We can expect that victims are courageous, and that they can bring to justice those who have wronged them. It is enormously empowering; responsibility shifts completely from the abused to the abuser.

The victims of the Labour Youth camp have already shown they have the courage to stand up to their abuser because they had already spoken up about this at the time. They have done nothing wrong and there should be no unilateral decisions about what is in their best interest.

How arrogant that those who should have been protecting them are now claiming the moral high ground by declaring that their silence was in the best interest of those who were assaulted.


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