Friday, 29 May 2015

The Duggars: let's remember the victims

Nearly a week ago, popular reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting, was removed from American schedules, following the revelation that Josh Duggar, the oldest of the 19 Duggar children, had sexually abused five underage girls, some of them his own sisters.  Because of peculiarities of the law in the US, he may no longer be prosecuted for these crimes.

The reality show followed the fortunes of the enormous Duggar family, who are professing conservative Christians, who have been very open about their beliefs.  Josh, the oldest child, is now 27, and recently worked for the Family Research Council[1], which he has resigned in the aftermath of the scandal.

As might be imagined, the news has been met with just cries of “hypocrisy”, and condemnation from liberal groups that is almost gleeful, especially given Duggar’s outspoken fundamentalist views. 

As might be imagined, fundamentalists everywhere have been quick to defend Duggar – with Huckabee saying “inexcusable does not mean unforgiveable” and this rather astonishing spin from the Duggar family Farcebook page.

As might be imagined, and most horrifying of all, the voice of the victims is not to be heard.  For all the spin, shouting, and manoeuvring, there are five victims, who have been sexually abused, who have lost the opportunity for legal justice, and who have been silenced by their parents’ declaration of forgiveness.

This happens too often.  It happened with all the historical sex abuse in the television industries cases recently brought to court in the UK.  Josh Duggar is not the victim here, caught out and trapped by wicked liberals.  Fundamentalist Christianity is not the victim here, let down by one of its ambassadors.  Five young girls are the victims; five girls, who thought they were safe in bed, but who were grievously assaulted.  Let us pause and remember the victims here, whose lives are maimed forever.  Let not their suffering be minimalized or forgotten while the rest of us wage our cultural wars.

[1] It is a curiosity in the USA that there are many organisations about “Family”.  These organisations are not normally about family at all, but are pressure groups campaigning against abortion, or homosexuality.  It is a bit like the “Christian” organisations in the UK, like the Christian Institute or Christian Concern.

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