Two incidents recently reported from the Southern and Western parts of the country, have resulted in the nation’s so called cackling moral Police, trolling on social media platforms, plying their holier than thou shtick laced with pop wisdom. They are quick to fetishize and label the nature of the said incidents as ones which involve ‘deviant sexual behavior, paraphilias, sexual perversions or deviations, or simply dismissed such as involving aberrant behaviour, on the part of the perpetrators. There is much talk of declining ethical values, socio-cultural mores and behavioural norms or social constructs, and the public’s sense of morality. The media’s histrionics feed the moral panic and hysteria.
Last week, in Dickwella, a 21-year-old fisherman had kept a 15-year-old girl in captivity, as his chattel and sex slave, for a period of nearly three months. He had used her as a human urinal, with her gastrointestinal tract acting as a vessel for the depositing of excreta. He had forced her to gulp down hot amber piss, its effluvia scented with beer. She had been tortured, assaulted with a wooden pole and an iron rod. As if to prepare in advance a defence for a possible case of Stockholm Syndrome, it is reported that she had suffered through this ordeal on a previous occasion too. Such is reminiscent of scenes from the real life cases involving Gary Michael Heidnik, Josef Fritzl, the exploits of the libertines in the literature of Marquis de Sade and the aesthetics of graphic violence in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom.
Elsewhere, also during last week, in Gampaha, Dunesh Priyashantha alias Kondaya, whose main claim to fame aside to a budding career in assorted crimes until now was as a victim of Police brutality and as the fall guy for his brother – who was recently sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a four-year-old female child in Kotadeniyawa – decided to immerse himself in nature. The object of his nocturnal desire was a tethered female calf (cow). The Police, who had rushed to the spot upon receiving a call from the distressed owner of the calf had shined the bright light of a torch on the young zoophile, believe that they had interrupted the naked lad (the Police are reported to have recovered a short, a tee shirt and a skirt) in the throes of his bestial impulses, attempting to perform a sexual act. It is reported that the calf had emitted a moo in fear and therefore it is safe to say that there was no mutual consent involved.
The documentary Zoo looks at the complexities surrounding the Enumclaw (in Washington) horse sex case and the death of an airplane engineer. In Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) by Alfred C. Kinsey, W.B. Pomery and C.E. Martin, it was found that one in 20 young men in America had indulged in bestiality on an occasional basis.
Austrian philosopher Peter Singer in his review of Midas Dekkers’s book Dearest Pet: On Bestiality titled Heavy Petting states that, “In the 1940s, Alfred C. Kinsey asked 20,000 about their sexual behavior, and found that eight per cent of males and 3.5 per cent of females had said that they had, at some time, had a sexual encounter with an animal, and that among men living in rural areas, the figure shot up to 50 per cent.” Singer goes so far as to say that “mutually satisfying activities” of a sexual nature may sometimes occur between humans and animals.
In a contribution to the critique of morality titled Beyond the Boundary of Morals (1906), Otto Soyka in a polemic directed against the prohibition of unnatural sex like bestiality, fetishism and other non-reproductive acts, saw these prohibitions as futile and misguided attempts to limit the inexhaustible variety of human sexual desire, arguing only for bestiality to be made illegal, even then only in the event that cruelty was shown towards an animal or the animal was harmed.
The Police pointed out that even though there were several such cases reported, involving illegal sexual behavior, there was, however, no increase or rise in the number of such incidents except that the media was giving more publicity to such.
“The media coverage has both positive and negative aspects. The coverage helps prevent such crimes as the public would be afraid of committing such types of crime when the eventual legal result is known,” Police Media Spokesman, Assistant Superintendent of Police Ruwan Gunasekera opined.
Psychologist, Dr. Marcel de Roos said that general aspects like how one was raised as a child, one’s background and one’s experiences in life play a role in the creation of the psyche of those who commit such crimes while usually there were specific reasons, causes and explanations for such. Remedies for those who do these crimes are very difficult to find and even though there are therapists who try to help the perpetrators, they usually do not change soon, he remarked. It is not right to place labels like ‘deviant sexual behaviour’, he observed.
“I only treat victims. I cannot stomach dealing with the perpetrators. It can be anything that triggers such aberrant behaviour. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders book’s (the 2013 update is DSM-5) classification and diagnosis is arbitrary. One needs to know the whole story,” he mentioned.
Sociological and criminological
Chair of Sociology at the University of Colombo, Senior Prof. Siri Hettige said that such matters concerned abnormal psychology.
President of the Sri Lankan Society of Criminology, M.A.D.S.J.S. Niriella said that psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s theories on unresolved deep seated problems and psychological repression explained situations like the one involving Kondaya, much more so than physical and mental inferiorities, biological and genetic predisposition, and anthropological theories concerning the body structure.
“There are sexual offences, unnatural offences, sexual violence, sexual abuse and incest. Those with unresolved deep-seated problems tend to commit crimes as they become anti-social persons. Their childhoods and upbringing play a major part. Even aspects like anemia are factors. The environments in which they are born and live in are vicious. They may not have outlets to discharge their emotions or satisfy their demands and they may become unable to control themselves.
The resultant mental structures play a role, too. The social disorder theory and broken windows theory is also applicable as in the case of Chicago in the 19th Century. Exact reasons cannot be given. One on one discussions must be held with both the victims and the perpetrators. The criminals must be sent to psychiatrists. Causes differ according to place, country and time,” she added.
The local Roman Catholic Church was of the view that such incidents reflected a problem of the society itself, concerning the society’s consciousness. Jesus Christ stated that if one looks at a man or a woman with a bad motive, one is committing a sin, Director of the National Catholic Centre for Social Communications, Cyril Gamini Fernando said.
The urge for sexuality is an inborn thing in all animals and human beings, he explained, adding that to actually use the urge to engage in real sexual acts, is what separates human beings and the beasts, with the difference being that, humans express love with each other whereas there is no love between animals.
“People do not understand what is really good or bad, right or wrong. Sexuality for Christians is a holy act. The sexual act should only take place within a marriage. It has two purposes. To express ones love towards ones partner, and to have children. If such happens outside the marriage, the purposes are lost,” he observed.
Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepure, Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera said that there are many individuals who are mentally twisted and have warped, distorted sexual tastes.
The reasons for such may be that they may never have been educated at a Sunday school, they may never have received an education, may be that they face or have faced various problems on the family and home front, they may face and have faced various injustices, and society may have taken revenge on them, he outlined.
The backgrounds of such incidents and of the perpetrators should be properly, scientifically researched in depth using Police reports and classifications done, and the reasons and causes for such must be found in order put in place processes, procedures and mechanisms to prevent such from recurring and such persons from becoming so and this is a concern which the entire society must pay attention to, he noted.
“Just because one attaches a label to oneself as a religious person does not mean that one is a Buddhist, Christian or a Hindu. When minds become enraged with unnatural lust, they are not able to tell even who their child, sibling (male or female) or mother is. Seeking to slake their lusts, sometimes end in death (there may be a reason why the French call the orgasm – la petite mort, ‘the little death’). Getting a hold of the incident and spinning news stories out of it is not solely what should be done. Laws itself will not eradicate this situation 100 per cent. There are no quick solutions,” he highlighted.
To love is to be possessed and to possess. To impose a label, such as ‘deviant sexual behaviour’, albeit an unscientific turn of phrase, on human behavior by classifying such behaviour as a freak occurrence, occurring at the hands of freaks, denizens from underdeveloped badlands and suburban backwaters, areas always erroneously assumed to be harbouring backward thinking, populated by the godayas (as referred to by the cultural elite), is to arbitrarily place a limit on the further, meaningful understanding of such phenomena of the human condition through the forced denial of human behaviour and human nature based on fallacies.
The world lost a genius in the form of the father of theoretical computer science, Prof. Alan Turing due to him being chemically castrated on the basis that he was a sexual deviant, because England at the time did not know that to be a homosexual was not a deviancy and that it never was or should have been. The same misguided approach was recently proposed by an Indian judge to be inflicted on gang rapists. What is the relationship of mental illness to all this? Although it may be easier for people to dismiss those who exhibit one or more of the traits and characteristics of a paraphilia or paraphilias, as ‘sick’ and heap righteous condemnation and scorn, it brings us no closer to any solution or path towards solutions.
Elsewhere, philosopher Michel Foucault has written of the role that power plays in the ultimate treatment of these debilitating diseases, illnesses and disorders by society through the machines of medicine and the law. ‘Deviant sexual behavior’ is such a dangerous and ultimately haphazard term of phrase, harmful to the advent of ensuring justice to both the perpetrators and the victims. As the civilized and cultured Alex of Anthony Burgess’s and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange would muse, “I was cured, all right!”
The only morality is amorality. To the Puritans, the fantasy of normality. We are our obscene objects of desire.