LETTER | Any girl in her teens, having been touched inappropriately, in the last 20 years or more in our conservative society, would hardly be expected to shout, yell or speak up, especially if the perpetrators were figures they actually trust like fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, teachers or religious figures.
There would be lots of confusion between their own discomfort, and their disbelief that these persons actually violated them add to this their indoctrination of love, respect, obedience to authority and the difficult pathway of who to complain to, who would believe them, what trouble they would cause the chain of relatives and school authorities and not being able to remain anonymous with a Facebook or Twitter confession.
There is a thinking that 'Better for me to suffer alone silently' than causing a lot of 'trouble' for everyone else in the family, clan or school community.
Today, a lot has changed. With the #MeToo movement, exposure of sexual abuse in churches, the advance of the women's movement teaching and educating the public, more and more are aware and have begun to realise the wrong they have suffered. More would find the courage to speak up, with more support, from mothers, leaders and the community.
The real issue that needs to be addressed is the thinking that one has to uphold the right way of practice, and even force it on to others, especially if others are under their authority.
This especially applies to prayers. Many believe these must be said, with strict regulation.
Some feel compelled to impose what is right on their charges, as they believe they would be questioned in their afterlife. In their mind, they are being responsible. Often, they have themselves been indoctrinated to be afraid of the fires of hell.
Perhaps this is the root. Their sense of grave responsibility. I would like to think the religious teachers did not have any intention to molest, sexually harass or hurt the school girls.
Their intention was to make sure everyone who could pray, would pray, with a heavy sense of overzealous responsibility and fear of afterlife repercussions.
We need to address how we look at our religious responsibilities and obligations, and the methods we use to instil religious faith in our children.
Are we up to it?
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.