I sent this forum letter to The Straits Times on 17 June 2014 and it has been remained unpublished as oh 4 Aug 2014 so I am reproducing it below.
I am writing in response to the horrific story titled “Woman disfigured after rejecting man’s advances at Clarke Quay club” as reported on AsiaOne on June 16. Link here.
I have been molested on numerous occasions when out clubbing with friends (Video here). Because I love dancing, I fight this fear of meeting with some mishap by not going regularly and always with male company. I don’t smoke, don’t drink and certainly never provoked any of these incidents. Each episode of molestation leaves me shaken, unsafe, violated and dirty.
As a sexologist, I know only too well that sexual violence can cause a woman to lose her self-confidence, feel disempowered, and become sexually repressed. Her sexuality and her expression are associated with something unsafe and therefore bad. She may continue to experience severe feelings of anxiety, stress or fear. She can lose all interest in romantic relationships, as well as her zest for life.
On May 27, a Pregnant Pakistani was stoned to death by her own family because she wanted to be with the man she loves. Earlier in May, two Indian cousins aged 14 and 15 who were gang raped committed suicide. Closer to home, on May 20, in a Straits Times forum letter writer shared how a man who was filming up-skirt was allowed to escape even though he was reported to a SMRT staff.
Making strong examples of reported cases is one way but is it good enough of a deterrent? What else can be done? We already have lets-not-rock-the-boat abstinence-based sexuality education programs in schools. Are sexual rights and how it is tied with our human right to express ourselves taught? What conversations are we having about sex and sexuality as a society? Can we move beyond the tips, tricks and techniques of sex in magazines?
Educate men that cat calls are not compliments but dangerous signals to a woman. Explain why it is necessary not to slut-shame women based on what they wear or how they act. Empower women to report acts of violence and support her through the process of seeking justice
Our sexuality affects our well-being and our sense of being. The wounding and re-wounding of women from sex jokes, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and all acts of violence towards women hurts all of us. We all deserve respect no matter our sexual behaviour or preferences. Let’s have more real conversations about sex and sexuality, and quit the sex jokes.
Dr Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), as well as certified sexologist with ACS (American College of Sexologists). She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia and beyond. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com.