Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This is case of child sex abuse, please don't romanticize it.

Few days ago while watching a TV show 20/20 on ABC I watched a interview of Mary Kay and her child sex abuse victim (now her husband) conducted by very celebrated and well known American broadcast journalist Barbara Walters. I didn't know about this scandal as I was not in US when this all happened (back in 1996), but when I came to know about this scandal during this show I felt sick and disgusted. When I saw the way this whole interview was conducted I was shocked to see that TV channels can glamorize or commercialize some disgusting incident like this just to attract viewership and earn revenues. This particular case was clear cut case of child rape, when Mary Kay indulged in illegal sexual activity with her 12 year old student, it was not out of any love or anything it was clear case of child rape or child sexual abuse. I was not a sexual encounter between two adults with mutual consent but she took advantage of ignorant mind and adolescent age of that boy and abused him sexually. She got really mild punishment for this heinous crime (six months jail) and even after that she got sexually involved with same person when he was just 14. I request readers to read very powerful account by Bobbi Parish, a child rape survivor herself about this whole scandal and this infamous interview broadcasted on ABC. She has written a very powerful article and I think it covers almost all aspects related with this issue.

Child sex abuse is very serious problem in our society but it is very rarely discussed because of sensitive nature of the subject and various social and cultural taboos associated with it. If we look at the statistics from various parts of the world it is not difficult to understand that this is a very serious and growing problem everywhere, even so called sacred institutes like temples and churches are also not free from this problem. Because of easy accessibility of internet and social media this problem has become more complex. Any attempt to legitimize or romanticize this heinous crime should be questioned and criticized in strongest possible words. I don't know what ABC and Barbara Walters were thinking before scripting some program like this to telecast on national TV but it is clear that they got many things wrong in this case. I know that media loves such scandals, it gives them opportunity to sensationalize the issue and attract maximum viewership, this in turn generates maximum revenues but they also need to think about social impact of these things. Another very important question which Bobbi also raised in her article is, did they dare to make program like this because victim in this particular case was a male and not female? Will they dare to telecast similar program if the victim would have been female? Isn't this a case of gender bias where attitude towards looking at heinous crime like child rape is completely different because victim is male and not female? There are many questions like these which needs answers. I am not questioning ABC's right to telecast this type of interviews, they have right to choose what type of program they want to make and when they want to telecast it. So ABC have full right to decide contents of their own channel, at the same time we all have full right to question and criticize contents of their program if we find it objectionable and derogatory.

It would have been better if ABC and Barbara could have used this unique opportunity to highlight issue of child sex abuse and taken firm stand against perpetrators of any such crime but shockingly they chose to portray a romanticized version of this crime committed by Mary Kay. These type of programs give the impression that such things are OK if you can escape the law by using whatever tactic you can (like marrying the victim), this program doesn't even come with warning that it is not appropriate for kids. So there are high chances that highly impressionable teenagers (or even younger kids) watch this episode and think that such things are OK under certain cases (if the offender marries the victim), this is such a wrong message and I don't think even Barbara Walters want this to happen. If ABC and Barbara are serious about issue of child sex abuse then they should telecast another program highlighting this issue and clarify their stand about this infamous Mary Kay interview. Let's see if they have courage to correct their mistake.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

1. Mary Kay LeTourneau is Not a Lover, She’s a Rapist

1 comment:

  1. Dear Vinay ji, namaskar. I am writing this email from Nepal.

    I want to contact you through email. But I could not find your email in your blog. I read your blog quite regularly. Could you please send me your email so that I can send you a detail email?

    My name is LB Thapa. I am a writer and journalist. I also publish a blog in the form of a magazine. Its address is

    I look forward to hearing from you. My email is