The Irish Independent article published on Saturday March 25th titled “You would never have suspected anything about his past’” was difficult to read. The nature and scale of the sexual attacks carried out by Michael Marville against seven siblings is distressing. But I have to admit the articles insistent coverage that the man’s attacks were so out of place in the village where he lived and married also made for difficult reading. I am baffled by the Irish media’s continued coverage of sexual criminals and abusers as ‘normal’ and quiet members of the community as if this is unusual.
When will the Irish media realize being ‘quiet’ is exactly how sexual abusers and rapists across communities survive and keep their victims living in secret shame?
RTE loves to interview the parish priest so he can express horror and assure viewers that there were no signs and the village is a ‘quiet place’. ‘They keep to themselves’ is apparently both documented method for proving innocence and for avoiding being a victim of sexual crime.
This article not only references the church attendance of the rapist’s family but brings out the GAA club, and his in-laws ‘respected’ standing in the community. These are all completely irrelevant facts and perpetuate the notion that sexual violence is obvious and attackers are skulking around the inner-city with guns and knives ready to pounce on women and children on a dark street.
“It’s a quiet area, you’d never expect something like this to happen here,” is the recurrent theme in these articles. I completely understand the sentiment as a neighbor or friend but does this mean it is part of the news of crime reporting?
Where do we expect these crimes to happen? Where is it less shocking? Ballymun? If any community should understand the conditions that allow sexual abuse to go undetected for long periods of time, it should be rural Catholica Ireland. When will the Irish media stop perpetuating the dangerous myth that the priest and men of authority should be the mouthpieces of the community and your church attendance and GAA membership predicts your trustworthiness with children?