It is widely believed that incidents of child molestation are not really present in Lebanon. The reality, though, is that most of them go hidden for years. It might be because as a society, we forcefully turn a blind eye to such elements that may be very flagrant in front of us.
The last time child molestation made headlines was with an instructor at renowned private school. The issue has now made headlines again with a 28 year old man who has been doing so for 14 years in Geitawi, a part of Achrafieh.
There is a sense of tragedy in thinking of the lives of all the children this man has maimed and ruined. The innocence he has taken from them will have a lasting, albeit repairable, effect on their lives.
And it’s precisely that: these children can easily be helped.
The man in question has triggered countless red flags along the 14 years he spent doing his deed. And yet, no one ever thought of intervening apparently.
1) The man in question was discharged from the military back in 2007 for violent sexual conduct. That would make him 22 year old at the time. Didn’t it cross anyone’s mind to refer him to some psychological help? Doesn’t our army have anyone to council them for any PTSD, which has probably become recurrent lately?
2) The man in question was also reported to be the victim of sexual abuse himself when he was a child. I highly doubt this is new information. It never crossed anyone’s mind that such a childhood trauma would have an ever lasting impact on a person’s being?
3) The man has also been “active” for 14 years. That would make him 14 at the time things had started. I find it extremely hard to assume that there was absolutely nothing that ticked off anyone to any odd behavior he might have had back then.
There is an equally tragic aspect of this story, however, in the cluelessness and utter unprofessionalism with which Lebanese media is reporting on the issue. Of course, “monster” brings much more attention than trying to actually address the issue. Instead, we are met with attention-grabbing headlines and empty content: from baseless psychoanalytical theories to give some science cred to a journalist’s piece down to publishing pictures of the man, along with his name.
I’m not justifying what the man did as anything remotely acceptable. It’s not. It’s sick and revolting.
But what’s also not acceptable is for such incidences not to serve as a way to educate parents on signs that something wrong might be happening with their children in order to intervene before it’s too late.
Instead, we are met with gossip-like handling of the issues simply because it is believed this is what people want.
Pedophilia falls under a subset of sexual disorders called paraphilia which are related to culturally unacceptable sexual activities which cause the individual severe distress. This may not apply to this Achrafieh “monster” if his actions didn’t cause him distress. But I’m also tempted to believe that the “monster” he is today is the byproduct of his experiences as a child, which nobody even cared about. And I’m also willing to bet that many of us would have felt sorry for that child at some point in his life before the lack of help turned him into the “monster” grabbing headlines he is today.