Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sexual Assault on a Plane

So far as I can establish, there has never been a report of a sexual assault of a child by a man on a plane. I've tried google searches with various permutations of these words, with zero relevant results. I realise that isn't definitive proof, but I do think it suggests any such assaults, if they have happened, are vanishingly rare.

Fox News today carries a piece by Wendy McElroy, editor of and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.

...some airlines are going to treat your father, husband and son as sex offenders simply because they are male.


For example, in 2005, Mark Worsley had to change seats when a Qantas steward informed him that only women could sit next to unaccompanied children.
Ms McElroy is clear about the wrongness of what seems to be widespread policy among airlines:
Seating men as though they were sexual predators is a vicious and discriminatory practice that has no basis in fact or logic.
Just so. She gives a reason why we have reached this situation:
...over the course of decades, Western culture has so thoroughly identified maleness itself with violence and abuse that major airlines feel free to openly treat them as predators.
But how well-founded is this assumption? It's hard to find firm data on this, and, according to the Wikipedia entry for Child Sexual Abuse, there is significant professional disagreement about the ratio between the sexes of abusive behaviour:
Most reported offenders are male; the percentage of incidents of sexual abuse by female perpetrators is usually reported to be between 5%[2] and 20%[citation needed], though some studies have found it to be much higher.[citation needed]
There are reasons why it is difficult to be clear about this, and these reasons tend to cause an under-reporting of female sexual abuse.

Some years ago, I spent half a day with the Police Child Protection unit in Bow, East London. I was investigating an allegation of sexual abuse in a school there for a national newspaper. The Detective Inspector explained to me the difficulties of bringing prosecutions when the word of a child, in an adversarial court system, would not stand up well to that of an adult. Basically, they needed physical evidence before they could proceed.

Just think about that for a moment. It is difficult to establish whether or not anal penetration has occurred, as became apparent in the Cleveland Sexual abuse scandal in 1987. It is possible to establish whether a girl has ever been penetrated, by examination of the hymen, but not whether a boy has been masturbated or coerced into sexual activity himself. This means that evidentially, it is easier to establish that a girl has been raped than that the same has happened to a boy. This gives a bias towards the identification of female victims. But what of offenders?

Here, the bias is overwhelming. Only men leave behind DNA evidence that they were the assailant. It might be the case that more sex offenders are male than female, but a comparison of conviction rates cannot establish this.

I knew someone recently who worked in a children's home, a sort of alternative to a secure unit for severely maladjusted teenage girls, almost all of whom had been sexually assaulted as children. The plain fact is that in a society in which women normally assume custody of children in cases of relationship breakdown or child birth outside relationships, every child in care has a mother who is at best unable to cope and at worst abusive. Most of the girls in this unit had mothers who either directly sexually abused their daughters, or facilitated, or permitted abuse by other adults, usually men. I was astonished to discover that most of the children had been sexually assaulted directly by their mothers.

And in NONE of these cases had a conviction been secured.

There is a deeply unpleasant aspect of the human character that takes pleasure from the persecution and humiliation of others. We see it in racism. In part, it drives the current wave of liberal and Islamic anti-semitism. We see it is the extraordinary herding of smokers away even from the shelter of doorways; even if passive smoking were as dangerous as smoking directly, some dignity could be afforded those who are still addicted, but it is not.

And we see it in a certain attitude towards men. To suggest that an individual, and by extension all of his sex, is so dangerous that he may not even be seated next to a child, is an assault. It is humiliating, offensive, and just plain incorrect.

It also joins other similar attitudes to men in creating a far more dangerous society, one in which some young men, deprived of good male models, embrace this view of themselves, even developing specialised vocabularies for gang rape, and celebrating this in music.

It also closes the circle, joining the extreme ends, where left wing feminists and bearded, misogynistic clerics devote themselves to achieving sexual segregation. Having won back their children, after a strange couple of centuries in which they were seen as remote from them, men are now losing them all over again.

And children are losing their fathers, losing the help and protection of men. It is too late for Abigail Rae, who drowned in a village pond.
...a bricklayer had passed a toddler, believed to be Abigail, walking alone near the nursery.

But he did not stop to help in case he was suspected of abducting her.
Welcome to child protection, 21st Century style.

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