Zolán Kósz and Zsolt Petőváry have been friends for thirty years. Both have represented Hungary at the Olympics, Kósz, a water polo player, even has a medal. They are also rapists. And Hungary, for the most part, is standing behind them.
Yes, you read that part right, ladies and gentlemen. The Hungarian public has spoken, and they are blaming the girl. Why didn’t she come out when it happened? Why did she wait until she was thirteen? Surely this means it’s a lie. Why did she go back to them? Oh, and she also falsely accused her stepfather of sexually molesting her. And she stole something once. And besides, they’re famous, Olympians even, they can’t do anything wrong. They’re (akin to gods). And look, Petöváry (too lazy to adjust my keyboard with one stroke to bother spelling his name properly) has a daughter. And she posted a picture with her father hugging her, saying how her father and younger sister are “representing Hungary, fighting for third place, despite all the nasty things going on abroad.” The daughter is either a pre-teen or teen, but only a few years older than the little girl her father raped. But, have you seen kids these days? How sexualized they are? They’re already engaging in sexually activities we only heard of in our marital bed.
No, I am not trying to be funny. This really is the mentality of some. First of all, what the hell does how you dress have to do with anything? Yes, I know, a woman has to be beyond reproach, sexy but not too much so, pleasing to the gaze, always with a smile. A painting that walks on its own, so one doesn’t have to shlepp it around. And kids experiment. That’s normal. That’s what they do. Shouldn’t we provide a safe haven for them? One acquaintance’s youngest daughter dressed up to go to the store with her parents. Her outfit? Shorts, a fishnet top, over sister’s bra, a faux-pearl necklace, and fed lipstick. Her sister took one look at her, and told her mother to “at least put a sweater on the kid, if she goes out looking like that she’ll have every pedophile running after her. And what will people say.”
Hungary plays by its own rules, as we all know. Deeply conservative and paranoid, it is in every aspect, an exact replica of the fundamentalist Muslim societies they really hate, except that women in Hungary don’t wear burkas. But, there’s very little difference between being forced to dress so as to please a man by hiding what you have, and putting it on display. Except that there is. The latter can be overlooked because it is not visible. So what if she shows too much cleavage, as long as it pleases the male gaze, more power to her.
The Hungarian parliament chose not to ratify any EU laws concerning child abuse and sexual molestation. No reason was given, but one assumes that it runs somewhere along these lines: “we are a civilized society. Things like this don’t happen here. Look at Sweden and Germany, look how many Rape cases there are. We don’t have that.”
“But there are statistics,” you say.
“Oh that’s within the Roma community.” Except they don’t say Roma.
Yes, these are legitimate conversations. And what they forget is something that we, brought up in normal societies (and I am deliberately using this word), take for granted. I’m not saying The Evil West is perfect, far from it. We have our own share of rape culture. But we are usually met with more understanding than Eastern Europe (again, I use the term deliberately, because the mentality is completely Eastern European, despite the location in Central Europe) when something happens to us that shouldn’t be happening. And what I mean by normal society is a society in which all people are equal, in which we acknowledge that indeed, not everything is perfect. Atrocities happen, so let’s help those who’ve gone through this. I once asked my boss if someone who made a certain remark was saying it as a joke (which turned out to be the case). My boss thought about it, gave me his answer, and in the next breath asked, “was it someone at work.” And you can bet that something would have been done about it. Long story short, liberal societies have their own share of abuse cases, and not everyone reacts in a good way. But you stand far more of a chance of being helped than in conservative ones.
Coming back to the little girl and the comments of why she didn’t say anything, how could she? First of all, she’s a kid. Kids are trying to make sense of the world around them, and it’s our job to guide them. Maybe she was flattered that two Olympians were paying attention to her, before they raped her. Sexual abuse, and any abuse isn’t all black and white. It’s not as simple as, “just leave,” muttered from the comfort of your armchair. It’s about trying to dissect what has happened, feeling lonely, ashamed, and even “dirty,” and a whole bunch of other stuff in between. It would take a whole other post to do this justice. Abused partners stay in the relationship, and they shouldn’t be shamed for their choices (or lack thereof).
And, yes, kids know more about sex these days than they perhaps should. But couldn’t we talk to them about it? There’s a program in the Netherlands where they teach you about relationships in an age-appropriate manner, or so I heard. In kindergarten you learn that some people don’t want to be touched, that it’s okay not to want to be touched, and every year you learn more. Kids don’t need to be forced into human contact. I always ask the kids I talked to if they want to shake hands, hug, kiss on the cheek (where it’s part of the culture), or just wave. And yes, kids will try out things like how to look sexy. They will have crushes. Everyone who has ever worked with kids will be confronted with this. As I told a teen when he asked me, “it’s a perfectly normal thing to happen. But it’s the adult’s responsibility to not act on it.”
And kids, like adults, can be assholes. They’ll ape what they see. They might even accuse someone of touching them falsely, because kids are not saints. But when that happens, it’s always advisable to look deeper, what’s really going on in the child’s life? What would prompt a kid to say that? And the same goes for stealing. Even empty, shallow teen novels have stealing down as something you do when there are other issues at hand.
Kósz’s age was given as 51. Rape is rape no matter what. And I really don’t think that rapists learn. It’s about power, first and foremost. But if even hardened criminals out you at the bottom of the swamp, you’re doing something really wrong.