paedophilia

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Paedophile panic has us in state of gibbering paranoia

Published November 14, 2014 by misty534

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You can’t blame people, especially parents, for being obsessed with paedophile fears. Endless institutional scandals mean there’s a powerful sense of ever-present danger. Add in the dark menace of the internet, seen as practically pulsating with uncontained paedophilia, and the fear ramps up still further. Nowhere is safe. The bogeymen are here, they’re hiding in the mobile devices that our kids take to bed with them every night. It’s no wonder that we’re in a state of outright paranoia.

Paedophiles have come to represent every evil in the world in the public imagination. But the problem with panicking about a pervert on every corner – or every chat-room – means that childhood has become distorted, and often defined, by these fears. Paedophile panic has perverted our understanding of normal adult/child relationships, fouling with suspicion even the most innocent and enriching interactions.

This is not to dismiss the reality of the threat. Of course it’s revolting to learn that paedophiles have been gloating over 731 photographs of local schoolgirls on a porn site. Sadly we live in a world where such loathsome people exist, and have easier access than ever to the kind of images through which they get their sorry kicks. But letting dread and revulsion of such activity pollute our everyday lives and the lives of our youngsters is a real failure of perspective and in the long-run does kids – and adults – a great disservice. Bringing children up with a pragmatic idea of stranger-danger is a beneficial thing, but rearing them to fear all solitary adult males as potential abusers is deeply damaging. It’s a desecration of their innocence, and it teaches them that the world is full of people trying to harm you.

It’s pretty tough on the men, too. Matthew Richards, a bird enthusiast, recently visited Puxton Park in Somerset with his three grandchildren to see a falconry display, then returned a few days later on his own to have another look at the amazing birds of prey. Puxton Park wouldn’t let him in. Why? Well, the theme park has a long-standing ban on admitting single adults as a matter of child protection. Puxton Park’s managing director Alistair Mead claimed the centre was “forced to implement stringent child protection policies” because of “the society in which we live in”. Mr Mead added that “we would rather be over-zealous when unaccompanied adults visit us armed with cameras than put children at any potential risk”.

I don’t know what it’s like to be automatically suspected as a predatory paedophile purely on the grounds that you happen to be male and on your own, and may or may not be “armed” – interesting word – with a camera. But I expect it feels rotten, demeaning, grotesquely unfair, a terrible slur.

We’ve got our ideas about what constitutes risk out of all sensible proportion. By this warped logic, single men shouldn’t be let into nightclubs in case they rape somebody. Better to be over-zealous than stand the chance of a sex crime, right? But the “potential risk” is potentially infinite. Where does it end? Mass surveillance? Enforced precautionary castration for all unattached males? I’m being facetious, but when catastrophic thinking takes over, especially if it happens at public authority level, there are no rational restraints on what extraordinary measures may be applied.

It’s really sad that we’ve got to such a state of gibbering paranoia. The old-fashioned idea that children can turn to other responsible adults in the absence of their parents has been badly compromised. “If you want to know the time, ask a policeman”: that was the saying. Not any more. Going up to a solitary man and engaging him in conversation? Are you mad?

Even sadder is the fact that children can’t rely on the assistance of adult strangers if they find themselves in trouble. In a social experiment, two very young girls stood for an hour in a shopping centre, looking lost. Out of the 600 people who walked by, only one, a grandmother, stopped to check that the children were OK, and she admitted she was “very hesitant” about doing so.

This is what happens when you pathologise relationships between the generations. It makes children vulnerable, fearful and isolated, and it deprives adults of their caring responsibilities towards all youngsters. Social breakdown beckons.

Is that a risk we really want to take?

Russia’s paedophile hunters

Published May 18, 2013 by misty534

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Combatting child sexual abuse in Russia involves some unexpected players – on the one hand, vigilantes who hunt down online child abusers, and on the other, the Kremlin, anxious to discredit the opposition. Mikhail Loginov reports.

 

Once a month Ilya Stepanov turns into a girl. He registers on a popular Russian social networking site and creates a page apparently belonging to a teenager of 14 or so. ‘Tanya’ or ‘Viktoria’ starts acquiring friends of her own age, and sometimes an adult male friend. To draw this man into arranging a meeting with the young girl, Ilya posts real photos of his thirteen year old niece on the page. Sooner or later one of these older friends will hint that he’d like to meet up for real. ‘Tanya’ warns him that she’s under age, but this doesn’t deter him and he insists on a meeting. And when he turns up at the agreed place there is someone to meet him – but it isn’t a young girl called Tanya.

It can’t happen here!

‘We don’t have sex here’ – said a Soviet woman in the mid 1980s during one of the first Soviet-American live TV ‘bridges’. The subject of sexual relations was indeed taboo in the USSR; in the arts and literature even any mention of heterosexual relations was strictly limited. So it is not surprising that an esoteric sexual area such as paedophilia was considered non-existent. Both sexual abuse involving violence and non-violent relationships with minors were simply impossible to imagine. Paedophiles did, of course, exist. Russian psychotherapists today frequently find themselves treating older people who were sexually abused in childhood. But at the time these events usually remained a secret between the child and their abuser.

In Soviet times even ‘normal’ sexual relations outside marriage were considered deviant, so a desire to seduce a child just seemed impossible. The Criminal Code did in fact provide for exemplary punishment for ‘corruption of a minor’, but no such cases ever made the papers.

There were two reasons for this. The official line was that moral standards, including sexual ones, were higher in the Soviet Union than in the west. People in the west were in thrall to their own sexual urges, whereas Soviet Man (and Woman) acted rationally and reasonably and didn’t give in to his or her base appetites. Even ‘normal’ sexual relations outside marriage were considered deviant, so a desire to seduce a child just seemed impossible. The Criminal Code did in fact contain articles providing for exemplary punishment for ‘corruption of a minor’, but no such cases ever made the newspapers.

In practice, however, most Soviet citizens were ruled not by the progressive morality of the future, but by a traditional peasant morality that laid the blame for the crime at the feet of the victim: she disobeyed her mother, stayed out late and so on. A child who reported either sexual violence or consensual intimate relations with an adult could expect not help, but scoldings and beatings at home and jeering from classmates.

So the subject of paedophilia was taboo at both an official and everyday level. Parents used to frighten their children with terrifying tales of a boy or girl being promised a ride in a car (there were so few private cars around at the time that this would be a really tempting prospect), taken away somewhere and subjected to something very bad. But what that might be, was never explained.

A misdemeanour – or a capital offence?

Paedophiles were rarely caught and their trials were held in closed session, given that their crimes were an official secret. And once convicted, a Soviet child abuser would quickly realise that a long prison sentence was the least of his worries. The only social group that recognised the existence of paedophiles were convicts. Someone convicted of a ‘nasty’ offence would often be murdered even before he could be sent off to a prison camp, or be himself subjected to sexual abuse and as a result be consigned to the lowest rung of the prison hierarchy. It didn’t matter whether he was a ‘new boy’ or a hardened criminal – there were no exceptions. Nor did it make any difference whether he was a violent rapist or a sports coach who had consensual sex with a young athlete.

So the terrible tales that went around among teenagers less about ‘maniacs’ who molested kids than about unfair convictions that more or less amounted to a death sentence. One story that did the rounds went as follows: an 18 year old student met a girl at a party and they spent the night together. The next morning it emerged that she was 16 or 17 [in the USSR the age of consent was 18; it is 16 in Russia now] and started blackmailing the student for a large sum of money. In the eyes of the law she was underage, and he was an adult. So if she made a complaint and the ‘paedophile’ was sent to prison, his cellmates might not know the circumstances and treat him as though he had abducted and raped a seven year old.

What’s the difference between a pedagogue and a paedophile?

When the communist regime fell in Russia and the country acquired a free press, it seemed as though there was a sex maniac around every corner: suddenly the papers were full of court reports about the latest paedophile conviction. ‘Parents left child alone for fifteen minutes and it was raped’, ran one headline; another read, ’Everyone in the building knew he loved children. No one knew he was raping them’. Some parents only found out from the tabloids that it might be dangerous to let your child out to play in the yard.

The hacks, however, offered the public not just lurid child molestation reports. Readers discovered the existence not only of paedophiles, but also of blackmailers. The popular press was full of tragic stories about a mother who persuaded her underage daughter to accuse her boyfriend of rape and demand money to hush it up. The victim had no money and was sent to prison, where he was raped and turned into a passive homosexual. On his release he went home and murdered the women who had falsely accused him.

So the subject of sex between and adult and a minor began to provoke more than one reaction. Sexual violence against children remained the object of universal condemnation, but where a child or young person seemingly consented to sex with an adult reaction was more nuanced and there were even jokes along the lines of: ‘Q. What’s the difference between a pedagogue and a paedophile? A. Paedophiles actually love children’. In intellectual circles people proudly pointed out that it was a Russian writer, Vladimir Nabokov, who had first uncovered the theme of a relationship between an adult and an adolescent to the world in ‘Lolita’.   

A change of attitude

The start of the 2000s saw a change in government and public attitudes to paedophilia. Articles began to appear in the press about shocking cases where the police refused to act on claims by parents that their children had been subjected to sexual advances and even violence. There were reports of court cases where people who had raped children received suspended sentences. The Criminal Code was updated to provide for more severe penalties for child sexual abuse, both violent and non-violent. The concept of an age of consent was also clarified; the existing law, formulated in Soviet times, used the woolly phrase ‘persons who have not reached sexual maturity’. A law of 1998 set the age of consent at 14, but in 2003 it was raised to 16.

In this new climate, the courts started imposing stiffer sentences, some of them highly
controversial. One man was sentenced to 13 years for abusing his young daughter, although the only evidence produced against him was from an expert witness on the basis of the child’s drawings: in a drawing of a cat the animal’s tail evidently resembled an erect penis (the defence also protested that the witness herself, a well known aficionada of lesbian BDSM parties, could not be considered impartial). In the end the sentence was reduced to five years.

One man was given 13 years for abusing his young daughter, although the only evidence produced against him was from an expert witness on the basis of the child’s drawings: in a drawing of a cat the animal’s tail evidently resembled an erect penis.

Another case concerned a lorry driver who stopped at a roadside for a pee and was accidentally seen by two small girls, who called their parents. The driver himself suggested calling the police, and admitted to a minor offence. Later, however, he was suddenly charged with deliberately exposing himself to the children. He claims a detective offered him a deal – a suspended sentence in return for 200,000 roubles – which he refused, and he was sent down for seven years. His case is now up for review.

Real rapists, on the other hand, sometimes still get away with it. Take the pop singer Igor Kondratyev, who performs under the name Konstantin Krestov. He would drive around towns on the outskirts of Moscow and whenever he saw a young girl would stop, let his Pekinese dog out of the car and ask her to catch it for him. When the girl handed the dog to him, he would grab her and pull her into the car. Most of the time, the charges made against him would be settled out of court: his wealthy parents would buy his victims off with large sums of money and new flats. One case did reach the courts, and he was given a light, two year sentence, but under public pressure he was retried and sent down for five years.

Children are also taught at school not to talk to strangers and to shout for help if approached, and the message is hammered home by public service videos shown on large screens on city streets. But there are some people in Russia who believe that this is still not enough to deter paedophiles.  

A non-consensual interview

A man walks into a cafe, sits at a table, looks at his watch. He’s waiting for a teenage girl, but a burly man sits next to him instead. ‘Were you expecting Viktoria?’ he asks. ‘I’m here instead’. The first man says there must be some mistake, but the other takes a piece of paper out of his pocket and shows him a printout of his online conversations, which shows that he had indeed arranged a meeting with a young girl called Viktoria. He wants to leave the cafe, but two more men in masks made out of knitted ski hats appear and sit on either side of him. A fourth man records the meeting on a camcorder.

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Maksim Martsinkevich, a neonazi and a former leader of the far-right extremist group Format18, after serving a sentence for incitement to ethnic strife, has become famous as a self-proclaimed paedophile-hunter. He filmed his own abuse of people suspected of paedophilia and published videos on the Web. Photo: Polit.ru

 

‘Viktoria’s’ friend is faced with a choice: he can answer the questions honestly and admit he is a paedophile, and then his admission will not be posted on the internet. Or, if he doesn’t, the recording will appear online, along with screenshots of his messages to an underage girl.

The conversation proceeds rather like an interview, although not a consensual one. Viktoria’s friend is faced with a choice: he can answer the questions honestly and admit he is a paedophile, and then his admission will not be posted on the internet. Or, if he doesn’t, the recording will appear online, along with screenshots of his messages to an underage girl. Usually child abusers agree to an ‘interview’ to avoid trouble, although if the conversation takes place on the street, rather than in a cafe, they may try to make a getaway and a fight may ensue. Sometimes it’s the paedophile that comes off worse, sometimes the anti-paedophilia activists. In one provincial city the ‘target’ came to the meeting by car, and when he saw he was being filmed he drove straight at his ‘hunters’, knocking down and permanently disabling two of them.

The war on Nabokov   

Over the last year, paedophilia has become a target for political propaganda campaigns by both marginal activist groups and government structures. The hateful nationalist politician Maksim Martsinkevich, better known by his nickname, ‘the Slasher’, has proclaimed himself an ‘anti-paedophile warrior’. Martsinkevich owes his fame to fake footage he posted on line which apparently showed the beheading of a Central Asian drug dealer (on closer inspection the head was that of a sheep). Now he is campaigning for the killing of paedophiles.  

Recent events in St Petersburg could also be seen as part of this political ’war’. Here the victims have been Vladimir Nabokov and popularisers of his work. One night a window of the writer’s museum was smashed by a bottle containing a sheet of paper with quotations from the bible denouncing sexual vices, and a wall at his family’s country estate, also now a museum, was defaced with the word ‘paedophile ‘ painted in large letters. At the same time Artyom Suslov, the producer of a show based on Lolita, was set upon and beaten up in the street, although his unknown attackers accused him of paedophilia not over his Nabokov connection, but because his page on the social network VKontakte shows photos of naked children (the work of acclaimed US photographer Sally Mann). The show was also cancelled thanks to the efforts of some so-called ‘Petersburg Cossacks’, although official Cossack leaders deny any involvement.

The most high profile politico-paedophile row concerns, however, the prominent blogger Rustem Agadamov, who posts under the name ‘drugoy’ (‘the other’). In December 2012 his ex wife accused him in her own blog of sexually abusing a young girl (who was not named). Agadamov dismissed her claim as ‘bollocks’, but refused to lodge a complaint. Russia’s Investigative Committee then began to examine the claim, but no details have been made public, and the chief police officer in the Norwegian town where Agadamov’s ex wife lives has denied there have been any allegations there or that any investigation is taking place.

You’re part of the opposition – you must be a paedophile!   

 The attack on Suslov, the broken window and the Agadamov scandal are probably all part of a Kremlin smear campaign. It’s all quite transparent: if the opposition leaps to the defence of the blogger or condemns the ‘Cossacks’, it can be confidently announced that a significant number of its activists are paedophiles. Krasnoyarsk journalist Oleg Leontyev, for example, has been the object of a trumped up charge, accused of exposing himself to a young girl in the lift at
his block of flats. He had an impeccable alibi – at the time of the alleged offence he was out covering a ‘fair elections’ rally and was caught on police cameras. But the local police are still insinuating that he had some connection to the incident in the lift.   

Ilya tells me he’s an apolitical person. He sees paedophilia as a real threat to Russian society and denies that politics has anything to do with it. ‘I’m not in the least interested in the opinions of a person who sets up a meeting with an underage girl. I don’t care whether he’s a communist or a liberal or a nationalist from ‘The Other Russia’. He preys on children – that’s enough for me. So I prey on him.’ 

The highjacking by the Kremlin of the public’s anti-paedophile mood may turn out to be a passing phase, unlike its continuing harassment of homosexuals, culminating in new legislation banning gay ‘propaganda’. The Kremlin’s ideologues have, particularly over the last year, taken to appealing to the public’s worst prejudices and outdated stereotypes. In Russia today there are nevertheless people who are unafraid to come out as gay and there are organisations that support them. But no one is going to admit to being a paedophile or to supporting paedophilia. Where prominent opposition figures have been ‘fingered’ by the regime for alleged child abuse, their defenders have always emphasised the falsity of the allegations. And given that none of them have been proved guilty of paedophilia, the chances are that the Kremlin dogs will be called off them and told to concentrate on ‘the gays’. The opposition’s vocal criticism of the anti-gay campaign gives the regime, after all, an excuse to portray it as an element that rejects the values held by most of the Russian public. 

As for the paedophile-hunting vigilantes, once Kremlin, and therefore public, interest dies away, they might also abandon their campaign. However much the recent furore has been driven by the regime, Russians’ attitude to paedophilia has genuinely changed. Both the government and the public recognise the existence of the problem, and people who sexually abuse children no longer get away with suspended sentences, as they did 15 years ago. And children are taught in school that they should report any inappropriate behaviour by an adult. So if paedophilia itself will not disappear, it should perhaps become less prevalent.

Greece classes paedophilia as disability

Published March 30, 2013 by misty534

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Athens – Greek disability groups expressed anger on Monday at a government decision to expand a list of state-recognised disability categories to include paedophiles, exhibitionists and kleptomaniacs.

The National Confederation of Disabled People called the action “incomprehensible”, and said paedophiles are now awarded a higher government disability pay than some people who have received organ transplants.

The labour ministry said categories added to the expanded list – that also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists – were included for purposes of medical assessment and used as a gauge for allocating financial assistance.

But NCDP leader Yiannis Vardakastanis, who is blind, warned the new list could create new difficulties for disabled Greeks who are already facing benefit cuts due to the country’s financial crisis.

“What’s happened is incomprehensible. I think there is some big mistake. The ministry should have a different policy on disability,” Vardakastanis told the Associated Press. 

“The list contains major changes to disability quotients, which could effectively remove many people from access to benefits.”

The new list gives pyromaniacs and paedophiles disability pay up to 35%, compared to 80% for heart transplant recipients.

“It’s really not serious to grant Peeping Toms a 20%-30% disability rate, and 10% to diabetics, who have insulin shots four or five times a day,” said Vardakastanis.

Greece has been fighting to avoid bankruptcy since 2009. Public spending on health and welfare programmes has been sharply cut under austerity measures imposed as a condition for receiving emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund and other countries using the euro currency.

Independently run welfare programmes that survived on state grants have been the hardest hit, leaving some disabled groups, including the deaf, facing sudden drops in their standard of care.

The government is also battling widespread abuse in the welfare system, forcing tens of thousands of disabled people to be reassessed.

 

– SAPA

A computer engineer who sexually assaulted young girls has been jailed for 13 years

Published March 23, 2013 by misty534

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Andrew Cilia, 50, of Ivory Walk, Crawley, was sentenced when he appeared at Brighton Crown Court, having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing at Hove Crown Court.

He admitted five offences of making indecent photographs of children, three counts of taking indecent photographs of children, six counts of sexual assaults on children, and one of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Cilia will be required to register a sex offender for life on discharge from prison, and will also be subject to a Sexual Offences Protection Order (SOPO) restricting his access to computer equipment and children, to last indefinitely.

The offences of assault, indecent activity, and the taking of indecent images of children related to girls aged between six and 12 years old.

They took place between 2004 and 2012.

Detective Sergeant Martin Harmer said; “In the autumn of 2012 we received information that a computer at Cilia’s address was being used to make available to others, images of child abuse via a peer-to-peer file sharing site on the internet.

 

“When we executed a search warrant at the address in November that year Cilia admitted accessing indecent images and was arrested.

“However it swiftly became clear from our enquiries that he had also been engaging in sexual activity with the three young girls who he had befriended as a family friend over a period of years.

“Cilia was charged and remanded in custody the day following his arrest.

“We are glad to be able to intervene, stop his offending, and ensure that the victims were able to receive proper support.

“Now Cilia has been brought to justice and we are also glad that at least his guilty pleas ensured that his victims did not have to give evidence in court, although it is to their great credit that they were ready to do so.”

 

by Anna Roberts

 

 

Stanley man told to expect jail after admitting child abuse and computer pornography charges

Published March 23, 2013 by misty534

A MAN who sexually abused two children was found to have amassed thousands of computer images featuring paedophilia and scenes of bestiality.

Paul Thompson, 53, was today (Friday March 22) told to expect to receive a prison sentence after pleading ‘guilty’ to a total of 28 charges brought against him.

Thompson, of Broom Hill, Stanley, made his first appearance at Durham Crown Court 24 hours earlier, when his barrister, Lewis Kerr, indicated his client was likely to be making admissions following a case conference.

But Judge Christopher Prince remanded him in custody overnight and told Thompson to expect to be jailed on his return to court today.

Once the case was called on Mr Kerr asked for the charges to be put to Thompson.

He admitted 15 counts of making, and one of taking, indecent pictures of children, plus one of possession of 4,931 such images.

Thompson also admitted nine offences of distributing indecent material featuring children, as well as one each of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and engaging in sexual activity with a child.

The court was told that examination of the contents of Thompson’s computer equipment, seized in a raid at his home on September 11 last year, revealed images at all levels of severity for child pornography, as well as some featuring humans engaging in sexual activity with animals.

Mr Kerr said there may be psychiatric issues which need addressing.

He asked Judge Prince to delay sentencing Thompson to allow for the preparation of reports by a psychiatrist as well as by the Probation Service.

Agreeing, Judge Prince said: “The defendant has pleaded ‘guilty’ and will receive a custodial sentence.

“I will remand him back into custody in the meantime.

“Every day he spends in custody now will come off the total amount of time he will eventually have to serve.

“Even if it takes six weeks to obtain the necessary reports nothing is spoiling.”

Addressing Thompson he told him: “The appropriate sentence will be passed on your return in six weeks.

“In the meantime your name will be entered on the Sexual Offenders’ Register and how long it will have to remain there depends on the sentence you ultimately receive.”

Thompson will be brought back for sentence on Friday May 3.

 
Northern Echo