A recent news article of The New York Times was published called, “Long-Silenced Victim of a Pedophile Writer Gets to Tell Her Story”. Ms. Gee, at the age of 15, had a relationship with a much older man named Mr. Matzneff. Years later she saw her picture on a book, and in the book, the letters that he had made her write to him. He had used her face and her letters to justify that relationships with adolescents were okay. Ms. Gee made efforts to remove her face and her letters from his book but was unsuccessful. She tried to give her side of the story by sharing it with journalists but was turned down. It isn’t until now when the Me Too movement has gained a lot of attention, that Ms. Gee, who is now sixty-four, was able to give her testimony to the media.
Mr. Matzneff had published many books on his intimate relationships with young teenage girls and with young prepubescent boys in the Philippines. He, his actions and his books were praised. Even though it is illegal to have an intimate relationship with an adolescent in France, there was still a gray area Mr. Matzneff could tread on. He also had many powerful connections that allowed for his books to be published and connections that also aided in his relationships with the young teens.
In a world where men feel like they have control to silence women, children’s voices are also hindered even more so when it comes to sexual abuse. These actions should not be tolerated and laws need to be made to protect victims and potential victims. Not only should laws be changed but the attitudes and behaviors towards these ideas and publishings should as well.
When it comes to child sexual abuse, it terrifies me as a parent to know that about 95% of the abuse that occurs is someone that the child and the family knows and almost over half of those incidences are family members. Many of those who are victimized don’t come out until much later on in life or not all. Oftentimes it’s because we don’t open the discussion with our children about what kind of touch is wrong. Culture and religion can also have a huge influence on whether or not a child will tell as well.
In the Hmong culture, sex and intimate touch are never discussed. It is also a very male-dominant culture as well. My older sister was a victim of child molestation. Our family knew nothing about it until she revealed it to us in her mid-twenties. She said the person who did it to her was my father’s youngest brother. I was shocked but my parent’s response to her was even more shocking to me. They didn’t believe her. They didn’t understand why she waited so long to tell them. They told her she was young at the time. It was so long ago that the story may be twisted and she didn’t know what was right from wrong then. It wasn’t just my parents that shocked me but my whole father’s side of the family also stood behind my uncle’s back\ over my sister’s. When she and her family came over to Minnesota to visit, she had told my uncles she didn’t want to see my youngest uncle during her time here. Despite her wishes, they invited him anyway because they thought her request was ridiculous.
Not only does my sister have to live with the fact that she isn’t able to come to Minnesota and see family without her molester being there, but in her marriage union, her sister-in-law’s husband went to jail for downloading child pornography. She also has to see him during family get-togethers with her in-laws.
It is so important for us to protect those that we love and those who are most vulnerable. As parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, and members of the community we need to open up the topic and have a discussion with our young ones about sexual abuse. The conversation should start as soon as our children are able to comprehend and understand right from wrong. We also need to listen and advocate for them instead of turning away, because the moment that something happens we can take the right course of action to seek justice for them. For Ms. Gee, it is much too late. Mr. Matzneff is being trialed for up to five years in prison for promoting pedophilia in his books, but that sentence could be extended if more recent victims of Mr. Matzneff come forward to testify against him.