You don’t have to consent. But we’d like you to consider.
Melvin Yuan
131

Speaking as a newly minted uncle to a lovely little girl, I can only speak for myself in the imagination of my niece taking the form of my own daughter. I fully accept that the view that consent may equal to friendliness but cannot emphasise enough, that the real issue here is the setting of, understanding and expression of boundaries; that which is debatable and varies from culture to culture. In today’s modern and culture-neutral urban centres especially, “human boundaries” cannot be understood enough nor learned except through society and plain old interaction. So herein lies the problem: boundaries should be taught not just to girls of a young age but to boys too. At no time must there be any exception when it comes to the expressed distance between child and other children or adult, guards should never be dropped even if the adult were a family friend or a person of authority. Physical contact must be sought by means of permission and the lesson of “when in doubt, say no” taught with no exceptions. Are we overwrought or insecure? Hardly. We have seen how the inability to understand boundaries have led to cases of child molestation and abuse under the hands of trusted family members and persons of authority (teachers, priests etc). Adults too, need to be taught that. Just because you see a cute baby in a pram, it does not mean you’re allowed a pinch of her cheeks nor a stroke of her head. We had an incident where my brother’s domestic helper helped herself to carrying his daughter without expressed consent of her mother. Even I, as her uncle would not dream of it! We have since left this to a cultural awareness issue but you get the point. In my book, you can never be too careful, because quite frankly, the penalties are too heavy and too irreversible to bear. So when does protection become over-protection? That will be another topic of discussion.

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