Don’t be a by­stander


Hun­dreds of res­i­dents ral­lied in Malmo city in Swe­den in late De­cem­ber last year, not to de­mand for a pay raise or the dis­missal of a high-rank­ing of­fi­cial like Mon­go­lians, but to demon­strate against vi­o­lent gang rapes. Shaken by sex­ual at­tacks of sev­eral as­sailants against three mi­nor girls ear­lier in the month, the protestors called out to the lo­cal gov­ern­ment and de­manded that it takes de­ci­sive steps to pro­tect women.

The quiet Malmo city res­i­dents re­al­ized the dan­gers of sex­ual as­sault against women and girls and spoke up to pre­vent an­other victim suf­fer­ing the same hor­ri­fy­ing or worse ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially when there is no telling that the next victim will not be their daugh­ter or sis­ter. Their quick ac­tion led the lo­cal gov­ern­ment to con­sider a bill on a new sex­ual con­sent law along with many other changes.

While Malmo res­i­dents were sym­pa­thetic to­wards the three vic­tims and tried their best to con­sole them, Mon­go­lians re­acted in the com­plete op­po­site way to the re­cent as­sault cases cov­ered by the me­dia.



Around a month ago, a 17-year-old teenager shared her story of rape via so­cial me­dia de­spite know­ing the po­ten­tial shame and suf­fer­ing her fam­ily and her­self will have to en­dure in the fu­ture. In­stead of prais­ing her for tak­ing up the courage to share her pain, many peo­ple were more in­ter­ested in her back­ground, con­demned her for drink­ing un­der­age, and blamed her for “pro­vid­ing” the op­por­tu­nity for her as­sailants to in­sti­gate a gang rape.

She might be from an af­flu­ent fam­ily and a daugh­ter of a for­mer min­is­ter but she is still a young teenager go­ing through the nat­u­ral process of phys­i­cal and emo­tional changes. As peers and adults who are and have gone through this stage in life, we should be well aware of how sen­si­tive a per­son can be at this age and how much cy­ber bul­ly­ing can af­fect them. This isn’t a mat­ter of how wealthy or in­flu­en­tial her par­ents are, but a mat­ter of ju­ve­nile sex crime, mod­ern up­bring­ing, moral degra­da­tion, poor parental su­per­vi­sion, and lack of em­pa­thy.

If ev­ery­thing the 17-year-old claimed is true, she en­dured the af­ter­math of the painful ex­pe­ri­ence by her­self for two whole years be­fore de­cid­ing to re­port the in­ci­dent. How­ever, what did she get in re­turn for her coura­geous de­ci­sion? In ad­di­tion to ig­nor­ing her pain, count­less peo­ple ac­cused her of try­ing to get at­ten­tion by all means, con­demned her in­stead of con­sol­ing, and spread neg­a­tive sen­ti­ments via the so­cial me­dia with­out car­ing about the girl’s scars or fu­ture.

Most of all, the by­standers ridiculed her ef­forts to ad­dress vi­o­lence in all levels, which most peo­ple turn a blind eye on be­cause of the shame it brings to the victim and his or her fam­ily. The girl could be suf­fer­ing more than she did prior to her live broad­cast about her as­sault. Law en­forcers who should be in­ves­ti­gat­ing and han­dling the case pushed the re­spon­si­bil­ity away from them­selves with the usual line “the po­lice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case”.

A com­mon trait among vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault is that they blame them­selves in­stead of their as­sailants and de­cide to hide their painful ex­pe­ri­ence from oth­ers, es­pe­cially close friends and fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gists who work closely with as­sault vic­tims. The re­cent event has made it harder for vic­tims of sex­ual abuse to speak up or re­port to the po­lice be­cause they have wit­nessed how in­sen­si­tive peo­ple can be and prob­a­bly lost hope of find­ing jus­tice. Maybe this is the rea­son Mon­go­lian psy­chol­o­gist B.Khan­daa made an alarm­ing state­ment that “ev­ery­one is an abuser”.



Did you know that there’s a law that states a state worker will be fired if he or she doesn’t re­port a sus­pected case of vi­o­lence? It is spec­i­fied in Ar­ti­cle 46.1 in the Law on Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence, but the pun­ish­ment is yet to be en­forced and made aware of.

Unu­udur news­pa­per re­ported that when a fiveyear-old girl went to the Na­tional Institute of Ju­di­cial Ex­am­i­na­tion for ex­am­i­na­tion af­ter get­ting sex­u­ally as­saulted by her step-fa­ther last year, the doctors and staff re­fused to ex­am­ine her as she couldn’t pay the fee of 10,000 MNT. This just shows how cold and in­dif­fer­ent peo­ple have be­come that they can’t spare their lunch money for a girl in need.

The staff may have been fol­low­ing pro­to­col by shun­ning the girl away but if they have such a great re­gard for law en­force­ment, they should have obeyed the law and filed a re­port, or been held ac­count­able by get­ting rep­ri­manded for not ful­fill­ing their so­cial duty. Even if they couldn’t af­ford to pay for her, they could’ve and should’ve at least re­ported it to the po­lice. We might not have the au­thor­ity to de­mand moral­ity from state work­ers but we can de­mand that they ful­fill their civil obli­ga­tions.

The lit­tle girl’s dread­ful ex­pe­ri­ence would have been kept hid­den and con­tin­ued if not for a young man who of­fered to help and re­ported it to the po­lice. Her step-fa­ther would cer­tainly not have been pleased to find out that she es­caped and risked get­ting him caught. For­tu­nately, there was still a per­son will­ing to ex­tend a help­ing hand to a per­son in desparate need. Af­ter sev­eral court tri­als, the step-fa­ther who claimed that the fiveyear-old girl got in­jured from “a fall from a play­ground slide” at first was sen­tenced to 18 years in prison.

The law spec­i­fies that state work­ers, es­pe­cially doctors and teach­ers, must re­port to the po­lice and lo­cal mayor’s of­fice if they sus­pect or wit­ness do­mes­tic abuse and that they will be sacked in the event they fail to do so. The law might have spec­i­fied this task to state work­ers but as hu­mans with mo­rals and com­pas­sion, every one of us is ob­li­gated to ful­fill this role. This law needs to be en­forced from now on. There are many NGOs against vi­o­lence and they con­tinue to grow in num­ber. You will not be alone when the time comes to ad­dress and re­cip­ro­cate this issue.

Like the young man who helped the five-year-old, I hope that each one of us liv­ing in this harsh so­ci­ety to­day can spare a bit of kind­ness and con­cern for an­other to pre­vent an ev­er­last­ing pain to them, whether that per­son is a friend or a com­plete stranger. Put your­self in their shoes and have some em­pa­thy and that will be enough to pre­vent a per­son suf­fer­ing from sex­ual or do­mes­tic abuse and per­haps res­cue a victim.

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