South Africa: Fifty Shades of Why the Viotti-Bishops Case Is Not Black and White

Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town (file photo).
opinion

'Save your outrage for a more serious matter - it's a storm in a teacup,' says the child's right activist on the other end of the line. Then she adds quickly: 'This is off the record, right?'

Her comments, also her reluctance to be quoted by name on the Fiona Viotti Bishops Diocesan College sexual misconduct case, speaks volumes. For her, the pupil was above the age of consent - "unlike an actual victim like the seven-year-old in the Nicholas Ninow case" so it is a matter that's not in need of society's outrage.

It's a reaction that makes it clear this case is not black and white. In fact, there are at least 50 shades of grey to understanding our own responses.

It raises questions about the burden and burn-out child protection activists face, also about how moral outrage weighs up again legal consent and why some cases make the news and others don't. It's about stereotypes that women are nurturers and caregivers and men just want sex all of the time and how this clouds our idea of what sexual perpetration looks like. It's about how teenage sexual fantasy turns toxic with memes and jokes; why sick humour...

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