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Abuse in the Catholic Church: What About the Girls?

by Christine DeSadeleer Apr 23, 2010
Why has the media failed to cover the sex abuse against girls by priests?

It’s not just about the boys.

It will take a LONG time for the Catholic Church to overcome the altar boys scandal that seems to keep replaying itself every few months or so.

But now Newsweek and Slate are talking about a part of the story that has been left out of in the mainstream media.

The girls.

And by girls, I mean little girls. Newsweek reports that while more boys were sexually abused overall, more girls under age 8 were molested than boys in this age group. They were also more likely to be the sole victim than the boys.

Plus, it seems like a bit of a double-standard is happening here. Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times wrote a couple of weeks ago about an Indian priest who is accused of having sexually assaulted two teenage girls under the guise of discussing their “interest in becoming nuns” when he was on temporary assignment in Minnesota six years ago.

Instead of defrocking him, the Vatican recommended he be monitored while being allowed to continue working at his home diocese in India.

A female reader of Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic Monthly, who was assaulted by a priest at age 16, writes:

No one is asking the question… what about the girls??? I am somewhat offended at this disregard by the media and other commentators, but glad to see you mention it on your blog…not every priest was attracted to young boys, many were attracted to young girls.

It is just much more accepted in our society (and by society, I mean the world at large) that girls are going to be assaulted than boys? Have we become so numb to the fact that on average, many more women will have been abused than men, and so the media only finds it sensational enough to cover the boys?

Barbara Dorris, national outreach director for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, had this to say:

In part because of sexism and homophobia, journalists, police, prosecutors, attorneys, and sometimes even parents feel even more outraged when a boy is sexually abused by a powerful man than when a girl is assaulted, and are thus more apt to take action, pursue charges, file lawsuits, and talk publicly.

What do you think about the media’s lack of coverage of the abuse of girls by priests? Share your thoughts below.

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