Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Mary Byler and Amish Abuse

The Amish seem like good people. In fact, many of their philosophies seem very nice. E.g. they do not permit the taking of photographs in the hope that families do not compete with each other trying to produce the perfect family photo, which may lead to envy and other things the Amish consider sins. The Amish live without any technology and they isolate themselves from the rest of the world.

While all this may seem very romantic, there are downsides. The isolation of the community leads to inbreeding, which means that the frequency of heritable diseases are higher in the Amish community than it is in the general population.

Another fear I have is that because the community is so isolated it may be more difficult to detect or intervene in cases of child abuse. One case that pops to mind is the Mary Byler case. Mary was an Amish child who was sexually abused by her father at the age of 3 and then at the age of 7 she was raped by her cousins and brothers. When the girl told her mother, the mother blamed the girl. This I think is very sad.

I am not saying that sexual abuse is widespread only in the Amish community because, as we all know, sexual abuse occurs just about everywhere, but the Amish's isolation as well as their highly male-centric culture doesn't help protect the vulnerable. This I suppose is my own personal taste, as I simply prefer individualism over collectivism.

I am very uneasy about government interfering in the lives of ordinary citizens, but if it for the protection of basic human rights like the right to not be sexually abused, I'm more tolerant of interference.

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