We can do more than bashing perpetrators if we want to protect victims of sexual voyeurism.
I feel that all the hate directed at National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate Nicholas Lim is distracting us from the real issue. There, I said it.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel sorry for 23-year-old Monica Baey and all the other victims who have to go through this, but I think we are missing the bigger picture here.
Contrary to popular belief, what mainly brought about this uproar wasn’t the offender’s actions, but the actions taken to punish him – or lack thereof. But shaming just one offender is not going to change the flaws in the system.
Last November, Nicholas was caught filming Monica while she was showering at Eusoff Hall. After alerting the hall committee and campus security, she subsequently made a police report about the incident.
In February 2019, she found out that Nicholas, 23, was given a 12-month conditional warning as he had a “high likelihood of rehabilitation, and was remorseful”.
Monica shared about her harrowing experience on her Instagram stories on Apr 19, 2019. She posted her gripes with the way NUS dealt with the matter and revealed Nicholas’ personal details, such as his name and photos. Some netizens even called for his “expulsion” and “jail time” for his actions.
Following the incident, Nicholas was suspended from school for one semester. He resigned from his financial advisor job at Great Eastern after the company suspended him.
The thought of these perpetrators going scot-free while victims live in constant fear and trauma is just infuriating. Yes, the perpetrator is at fault, and he probably deserves a stricter punishment.
But does it justify making the whole incident about him?
Letting our emotions cloud our judgement on such delicate issues is only going to distract us from coming up with new solutions.
While serving social justice is important, it is equally important for us to bring it about in the right manner. Instead of wasting our time and energy bashing an offender, we should focus on bringing social justice to all victims of sexual assault by appealing for a change in the systems instead.
We can all start by looking at the situation objectively and giving constructive feedback to schools, collectively putting pressure on them to tighten their guidelines.
On Apr 25, NUS held a town hall meeting to address concerns by their staff and students. Even though many who attended the town hall felt the outcome was not satisfactory, at least we are starting to see the first few steps of change.
NUS is now reviewing its “safety measures and infrastructure concerns”. They are providing a victim care unit and standardising their policies before the review committee comes up with a new disciplinary framework.
It is also assuring to see other schools taking new steps to better protect their students. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) have started to review their sexual misconduct and harassment procedures.
While Monica Baey’s incident has sparked more honest conversations about dealing with sexual harassment cases in schools, we should be careful not to allow our emotions misguide us.
Spreading personal information of such perpetrators may not necessarily bring justice to our victims. In fact, it will only distract us from preventing similar incidents in the future.
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