?It goes without saying that the T&T Coalition Against Domestic Violence is deeply upset over the weekly reports appearing in the foreign media, only some of which are repeated in the local media, about the abuse of children by priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Equally upsetting is the official cover-up of such abuse and the organisational response when such abuse is discovered which has been to send the offending perpetrators to a different posting without warning the new parishioners of the danger to which their children have been exposed. The dismay arises because of the suffering of the children. Not least because the reports are only dealing with the abuse of boy children. Since research indicates that only about eight-ten per cent of all men are homosexual, and a very small percentage, perhaps 1.5 per cent, of those are paedophiles, what about the acts committed by�the other 90-92 per cent of the male clergy?
If the statistics hold, there would be an estimated 13.5 per cent of heterosexual priests who have paedophiliac tendencies, involving girl children. I can't help but wonder about the girls that have been abused by heterosexual clergy who are also sworn to celibacy and therefore denied by their religion a normal sexual outlet? Internet research on priests' sexual abuse of children results in 1,760,000 entries, the majority of them dealing with the abuse of boy children. And why is no investigation being done about the abuse of girl children? Over the last 40 years that I have been in the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, I have had numerous one-on-one reports from women who were sexually abused as children by "celibate" priests. Therefore, in all the "transparency" now coming out about child abuse in that church, I find it is curious that no one is mentioning the girls.
It doesn't even appear that there is a cover-up where the girls are concerned. It is as if they don't matter, and that apart from the battering and other physical abuse of girls by nuns in Catholic schools, juvenile detention institutions and orphanages in Ireland and Chicago, which did get some exposure a few years ago, nothing about the abuse of girl children is deemed to be important. The sexual abuse of girls in the Catholic Church by clergy cannot have been unknown to their own authorities. Not that the abuse of girl children only happens in the Roman Catholic Church. In Trinidad we have had reports about such abuse from virtually every religious denomination, although in the majority of those cases the perpetrators did not claim to be celibate. They talked, with equal hypocrisy, about "pastoral care," "pastoral counselling" and, ironically enough, "using the rod of correction."
Pundits have their own vocabulary about "cleansing rituals" and "removing evil spirits." The reports of sexual abuse of girls in government schools by male teachers also seem to have been mainly hushed up, even after reports have been made to the ministry, if anguished reports from parents are to be credited. Teachers carry great authority over the young. If girls are warned by the abuser that, if they tell anyone, "I will make sure that your father is fired," or that "your little brother will fail his exams," they believe without question. At least in this there is no gender discrimination. Abuse of boys in schools in Trinidad is also seldom dealt with. Although machinery exists, it involves reports going to the Ministry of Education and is so slow, bureaucratic, and time-consuming that the abused child has to face the perpetrator every day for months before anything is done.
Few children can withstand the emotional or psychological pressure. And few ever do. Abusers know that. Two wrongs, or ten wrongs, do not make a right.
Any abuse of children by figures of authority in schools does not lessen the wrong done by members of the clergy. Abuse of boy children by members of the clergy in other denominations does not excuse abuse of boys by members of the Roman Catholic Church who vow "celibacy." Or the official cover-up of such abuse. And exposure of the sexual abuse of boy children (and, yes, "groping" is classified as sexual abuse) does not excuse the abuse of girl children.
Chair, T&T Coalition
Against Domestic Violence