Child Sexual Abuse and Organising Ethics

CatholicChurchAbuseScandalGraffitiPortugal2011

I have thought about writing this for quite a long time not knowing how to do it. The recent protests at Tate Modern brings new hope about solidarities amongst women, solidarities amongst artists and most importantly a questioning of institutions that engage in silences erasing women’s histories of violence.

This protest existed in many spaces. We are angry at the way the art institution lets down women artists, artists of colour, queer artists, non binary artists and trans artists by staying silent over violence against our bodies. We are angry at the erasure of these marginalised bodies from archives, and the lack of justice we constantly suffer.

We were also angry that the death of a woman of colour is deemed so unimportant it has no repercussions for the man who allegedly killed her.

Written powerfully by Liv Wynter, you can read more here: https://opendemocracy.net/transformation/liv-wynter/why-i-stormed-tate-modern-in-protest-against-violent-men

This blog post has been sitting for way too long in my drafts and I am going to break my silence about what I know to be about an artist accused of alleged pedophilia.

While showing someone photographs, from the protests against the takeover of Venkatappa Art Gallery, it was brought to my notice that allegations of child sexual abuse had been made publicly against an artist, a participant of the protests. A ‘suo motu cognisance’ had been taken by Karnataka State Commission of Child Rights. There exists no information in the public domain about what is happening with the investigation and this post is based on what is currently available to the public.

It would be a bit far fetched to imagine that the artists participating in the protests were not aware of these allegations since the artist community is so thick. (Try expressing dissent!) Which then leads into questions around how one deals with people who have been accused of alleged sexual abuse. It has to be noted that the concerned artist’s presence was not at a protest as we have come to understand the word but at what was designed to be an ‘artists’ intervention’ asking to be read as an ‘innovative’ way of protest. This then puts responsibility on the organisers to take an ethical stand about those who have allegations of alleged pedophilia against them or inform the public that an investigation has absolved said artist. This is also something the artist should have also done before appearing in public – release a statement!

In recent times there has been massive public support for reporters of sexual assaults which includes taking the stand that alleged perpetrators will not be associated with till the investigation is over. For an example see a post on Kafila about allegations against Mahmood Farooqui. It is extremely important that issues around child sexual abuse or gender/caste/sexuality based violence are not taken lightly. These issues are not about distracting attention from what is identified as a primary issue – here privatisation of a public space – but is linked to the ways in which we imagine what constitutes communities and solidarities and support especially for the most vulnerable.

An important article to read by Samira Sawlani on Media Diversified looking at white men who volunteer in African countries – here Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and child sexual abuse. https://mediadiversified.org/2016/03/10/the-theft-of-innocence-voluntourism-and-child-sex-abuse/

 

 

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