A Voice to Conscientize or a Voice to Reiterate Harm?

Giving a voice to sexual offenders can open wounds and trigger traumatic memories.

[Due to the violent and triggering nature of the subject matter of this topic, VARSITY would like to issue a content warning for this piece]

By Siviwe Cingo

The world we live in harbours sexual perpetrators. Some sexual offenders exist within our society, and some have been sent to correctional services. There have been remedial recommendations on how to reform sexual offenders, concerning effective and safe treatment, and the duty of reforming sexual offenders has demanded intervention from judicial, mental health and policing services. In dealing with the scourge of sexual offences committed by sexual perpetrators, The Avon and Somerset police (a police force in England) institute’s strategy have been two-fold: 1. to rehabilitate the sexual offenders through remedial treatment and 2. to conscientize society through a controversial campaign.

The Avon and Somerset police force, during their crime prevention campaigns, decided to give a voice to sexual offenders so that they could tell their stories of committing sexual crimes and advise others to not make the same mistake. This campaign is part of a larger scope of work that focuses on victims of crime. However, according to the police force, “It is important for us to show that we are provocatively working to prevent these crimes and stop people from causing harm in the first place”. The call to give sexual offenders a voice has been met with criticism from members of the public. Some people cite their grievances based on how the voices of these offenders trigger traumatic memories and undermine and devalue the pain felt by victims of such atrocities. Further, they purport that these platforms that give sexual perpetrators a voice are made for them to draw sympathy rather than show remorse. Conversely, I believe that at the forefront of sexual crime prevention should be the offenders, who can be used as a prime example of what heinous and illegal sexual crimes can do to a person’s life – the life of the victim as well as the life of the perpetrator. What better way to do that than to hear it first-hand from the criminals themselves? Sexual offenders should be given a voice to warn society about sex crimes as well as to help prevent others with pedophilic thoughts to seek help instead of commit a crime that will land them in jail and scar someone else for life.

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