Trivialising rape is never the right way to go

By Ghui

I apologise for wading in late to the game. However, as the saying goes “better late than never”. This is especially in light of the seriousness of the issue.

Most would agree that adolescence is a difficult and confusing period in one’s life. Even more would concur that rape or any form of sexual assault leaves a victim feeling exposed, vulnerable and violated. I wonder, however, if people are truly cognizant or sensitive to the enormity or depth of those feelings or do people just express sentiments as verbal homage to a heinous crime?

Teenage magazine was one of the hallmarks of my youth. I certainly remember poring over its contents and glossy pictures, hoping that it would help me beef up my street cred as a cool teenager. As my significantly older self, I can laugh at some of the concerns featured in the magazine and dismiss them as puerile. But in those heady days of adolescence, I truly valued the magazine’s input in helping me navigate through my younger teenage years.

I, therefore, read the advice dispensed by Teenage magazine with immense concern. Clearly, the advice given by the magazine was so disturbing that it was even featured in the BBC! Dubious honour!

To give the teenage bible the benefit of the doubt, its resident agony aunt was probably attempting to be tongue in cheek and create some controversy to drum up readership but is trivialising rape the right way to go about boosting readership?

Perhaps the magazine was trying to preach the conservative and dangerously outdated Asian values of how a girl should behave but can this ever justify rape victim bashing?  How can the magazine actually print an article that would suggest that a victim be grateful that a rapist wore a condom? It beggars belief that the so called “expert” couldn’t tell the difference between the consequences of rape and the teenage misdemeanour of lying to her parents. In trying to chastise the poor girl for lying to her mum, she has somehow lost sight of the much bigger crime of rape. The teenager’s call for help has been dismissed because she has lied to her mum!

Surely as an adult, one can see that there is a time and place for everything. Is lecturing someone on being upfront with their parents more important than telling a violated teenager that she ought to go to the police?

No means no. No matter how a victim is dressed, how he/she behaves or where the rape takes place, rape can never be justified or excused. In many cases, victims of abuse feel utterly humiliated and ashamed. While such sentiments are absolutely unwarranted, it is manifestly clear that these tragic feelings of shame are commonplace among sexual abuse victims, some of whom take decades to speak out. It is therefore a travesty that a victim that is asking for advice in such a heartfelt manner is being so publicly put down by an “expert”.

The agony aunt in this unfortunate incident has been described as having a “tough love” and “straight talking approach”. Is this tough love or is this ignorance? Is this straight talking or is this downright deplorable judgment?

Teenage magazine should issue an unreserved apology and sack “Dear Kelly”. It should exercise better care in ensuring that it engages the services of better trained experts.

At best, Kelly’s training is dangerously out dated and at worst, she is wholly unqualified. Neither is particularly reassuring.


Kelly Chopard issued an earlier apology on her “advice”, she wrote:

“I sincerely apologise if my response to “Raped after lying to mum” came across as harsh and “blaming the victim”. Please believe me when I say I am profoundly sorry for teenagers who are vulnerable and often “naïve” as I stressed, more than once, in my response in this case. I stated, “Your total naivety led you to believe you were having a sleepover with a best buddy. I totally believe you had no idea that he had sex on his mind. It is most unfortunate for you”.

My response takes into consideration our many readers who seek direction so they will not find themselves in a similar situation. I have to adopt a particular tone so as to make sure the writer does not engage in such risky behaviour again, and this is also aimed at warning readers of the consequences they face should they engage in risky behaviour.”

For the full apology, visit the post on teenage.com.sg.