By Dhyan Abeyagoonasekera
Bribery and corruption has become a way of life in Sri Lanka. It has permeated every segment of activity however insignificant it may appear to be. It transpires that the biggest offenders are in the education, police and health sectors. Although the financial element in bribery and corruption is still reigning supreme despite the risks non-tangible demands for bribes to grant favours are also emerging in considerable numbers. Sextortion is a new form of sexual black mail or exploitation that employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort sexual favours in which abuse of power is used as the means of coercion. It is abusive conduct that bears the element of corruption.
Sextortion comprises two elements–sexual crimes and crimes of corruption. In the corruption element the perpetrator must be a person in authority who abuses that authority to demand sexual patronage in exchange for some favour for the victim’s benefit. In sextortion, sex is the currency of the bribe–not money. Yet, it incorporates the grain of quid pro quo meaning “this for that”.
Sex is safer
“Some school principals have got on to another type of bribe, Ooty. They have found that asking for sexual favours is safer than asking for do-re-me. Besides, I am sure they find it a more enjoyable type of bribe,” guffawed pussycat glancing through a three-day Daily Dodger, his employer Shelton Perera had left on a table in the sitting room of the Perera residence.
“Thuhooot!” responded Ooty, an owl, pussy’s pal and working partner at Shelton Perera’s Wallside Restaurant and Bar. Perched on a whatnot, the bird was half asleep. “Me thinks that too many school principals have been caught red-handed far too frequently in having their palms oiled by parents to get their brats admitted to Grade 1 and into the school cricket team and whatever else that can be done through a santhosam.”
“Purrshsh, cops and bribery bobbies must have good evidence that a bribe was paid for whatever favour. So catching them in the act of poojafying money is a must–like chillie in a pol sambol. They also need a witness to tell court, ‘Yes my Lord I saw the suspect giving money to the defendant with my own eyes. It’s disgraceful for a principal....’ halted by His Lordship who will say: ‘Thank you. That will be all; witness may step down’ And, that will be that– for the principal I mean.”
“Purrrr. There’s a piece here in the front page of the Daily Dodger about a principal who had asked for sex in return for the favour of giving a job. Here listen to this. Pussy read the article for the owl’s benefit. “On a complaint made against the principal of the Harikalabala Maha Vidyalaya by a female applicant for the post of games teacher that the principal asked her for sexual accommodation if he gives her the job, the Harikalabala police arrested the principal who was later remanded by court.”
Pussy paused to observe, “Nothing is said whether the sex bribe involved a one-night stand or whether it would be regular feature in the lady’s employment as the games teacher. Anyway the rest of the story goes as follows: The complainant, an Arts graduate also told police that about two weeks ago she was taken to a hotel by the principal and that he had sex with her. The suspect is to be produced in court on Feb 29.”
Had sex but no job
“Whooom, whooom. If this dame complained to the police about the principal’s demand for sex if she were to be given the job, it means she didn’t get the job. Someone else did.
It may also mean that the principal had sex with other comely applicants with the promise of the job of games teacher. That’s a clever way of having free sex,” laughed the owl the way owls do–rather rarely. “Anyway, was the position filled at all?”
“Purrshsh. I don’t think so. This report doesn’t say anything. Maybe the principal wanted to interview some more applicants before making a decision, ha-ha-hee-heeeee,” pussy laughed loud and long. “Jokes apart, there is something in this that pricks my mind Ooty. How is anyone to know whether this dame’s complaint was true or not? As far as I can see she has not presented any evidence such as photographs, voice recordings, eye witnesses and all that to support her complaint....”
“Don’t be damn silly,” tooted Ooty. “How can you have eye witnesses when two people are having sex behind close doors? Do you like to have someone to photograph you when you were lovey-dovey with your girl friend? ”
“Purr, maybe yes, maybe no,” winked pussy. “If they went to a hotel, the dame can produce hotel bills as proof.”
“Whooom. No way. Hotel bills will only prove they rented a room. That’s all. There is another thing. How did the principal take this dame to a hotel and had sex with her without her consent? Sex between two consenting adults is no crime. If one was married it would be adultery which is another matter. Anyway if the school boss forced her to have sex with him, it would have been rape, no? But no-one had heard the dame shout ‘Rape, rape!” The bird had an argument there.
“Meeooow. So, now what?”
“Whoooom,” went the wise -looking owl. The lady complained to the police very likely because despite the sexual bribe she paid, she didn’t get the job. So since hell hath no fury than a woman scorned, the game dame who wanted to be a games teacher went to the police. If she got the job she would n’t have gone to the police although she would be as guilty as the principal. But going to the police is one thing proving the case is another thing.”
“Purrr. How’s that?
Beyond reasonable doubt
“Thuhoootsee (see), she has no evidence. Asking for sexual favours is a form of corruption, but it has to be proved in court ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ as our legal governors say. I am surprised the principal was arrested merely on an unsubstantiated statement. Whooom, whooom, anyone can make a complaint of sexual harassment to embarrass or put someone into trouble–big trouble.”
“Meeooowww. But sex as a bribe has been around for some time, hasn’t it?
“True, true; but I haven’t heard the word sextortion in law, but I think several laws recognise it for what it is–a bribe. But the law is weak here. For instance if any governor charged for an offence there’s a need for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the governor has committed the crime he is accused of.
”In a crime of sextortion because it can be committed in secrecy between two parties it is difficult to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. Where’s the evidence? So, I don’t know how the police can to make the charges against the principal stick.”
“Purrshsh! So, what to do then?”
“Well,” said the wise-looking bird, “our governors will have to amend the law and make it an exception to the general rule of evidence and allow evidence that may not be ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
In these sexual bribery cases, it’s the only way to give justice to a victim of sextortion. The victim has to go to court to tell her piece though. And that can be a pretty embarrassing thing. So it appears that sextortion will live longer putting women’s rights parties on their back feet.”
“Purr, purr, so you know all about it, right?”
“Thuhootyep (yep),” the wise looking bird said. “I am on to Googling now.”
“Good, good. Then, what about a woman asking men for sexual favours to recommend him say a promotion or something. Will that be sextortion?”
“Thuhoootofcourse! (of course); the law applies to all. Why, have you heard of a dame on to sextortion?