In the past week, I have had at least two men facing separate allegations of outraging the modesty of women approaching me for guidance on appointing suitable legal advisers.
This is unsurprising. I am hearing of more such cases. Perhaps, we are opening up too fast as a society, or becoming trigger-happy in expressing our feelings. Alternatively, it may be due to an incapacity to control one’s rage or urge.
The men involved usually went to clubs to party. They met random women. A misunderstanding occurred. They were accused of molesting the women.
Those cases where one is charged and convicted form only a tip of the iceberg.
A lot of times, it is all a major miscommunication. The police are called in, but no investigation is initiated. Sometimes, an investigation by way of police questioning is triggered but no charges are pressed.
Then, there are those who are charged but a composition by way of settlement is mutually agreed to, and the cases are accordingly discharged. In one case many years ago, the woman expressly told the man to offer her a certain sum of money and she would, with the consent of the court, withdraw the case.
I am told such instances are not isolated, and women obviously know what their rights are in such situations.
However, this does not mean the man is free even though the court effectively acquits him. The record of the charge follows him for life.
It will come up in background checks. He will be deprived of certain jobs like joining the financial services sector or work in the protective services industry.
I am worried by this trend, that a man is black-marked for life for what is essentially a miscommunication or misunderstanding, or a lack of sensitivity in handling a member of the fairer sex.
My own sense is that we may have set the bar too low for a woman to claim she has been molested. If this is not the case, there may be a need to look at the process to enable some kind of “without prejudice” mediation or adjudication of the matter, particularly in cases where the circumstances do not justify a criminal record.
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