Ultra-conservative journalist calls child abuse victim a prostitute

In a revolutionary case, a Polish court ruled last month that abuse victim Katarzyna will receive 1 million zloty (230,000 euros) compensation and a life-long pension from the Church. “No whore is paid this well,” Stanisław Michalkiewicz commented.

Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko NewsMavens, Poland
Ultra-conservative journalist calls child abuse victim a prostitute - NewsMavens
Priest, PixaBay

The court's sentence was bound to trigger some conservative backlash. For the first time in Polish history, a civil court ruled that not only a particular priest but the Catholic Church as an institution will be held accountable for a case of child abuse. Justice Anna Łosik made it clear that the crime took place because the perpetrator was a priest.

This came as a shock to the far-right who idolize the Church for its historical role in Poland’s fight for independence. And instead of reevaluating their views, some ultra-conservative commentators resorted to victim blaming in order to save the face of the perpetrator.

After the sentence was made public, the right-wing politician Janusz Korwin-Mikke tweeted that ex-priest Roman B. merely “kissed and groped” his victim and that the justice’s decision “will make teenagers jump en masse into the beds of priests by force or deceit.”

Two weeks later, right-wing journalist, politician and academic teacher, Stanisław Michalkiewicz said on his Youtube show:

“Now ladies of both sexes will remind themselves, selectively, of the priests from the wealthiest parishes. (...) To get one million zloty for having someone put a hand up your skirt -- well, who wouldn’t like that? A lot of women do it for much less money, and this one received not just a million but also a life-long pension.”

Then he added, laughing, and visibly content with his wit:

“No whore is paid this well.”

He also ranted about Justice Łosik, suggesting that she be tested by veterinaries before she leads any other hearing. In his opinion, the sentence she issued implies that the Church hired the priest to abuse his victim.

If I were to point out everything that is wrong with these statements, I’d be talking for a long time. So let’s focus on facts. Because apart from being examples of extreme misogyny, cruelty and victim blaming, both of these statements call for fact-checking.

One word -- disinformaton. This is the first strategy used by both commentators to diminish the gravity of the crime. Former priest Roman B. was sentenced for several dozen sexual crimes against Katarzyna, including multiple rapes. The priest held the then 14-year old girl captive and abused her for over a year. And yet both of the commentators speak about this as if Roman B. hardly touched Katarzyna, as if it was a flirt.

Instead of using the word “rape”, they talk about “groping”, “kissing” and "putting a hand up a skirt” and thus distort the real meaning of the sentence.

To the reader who may be unfamiliar with the original case, this disinformation coupled with the scale of the financial punishment may seem like an unjust treatment of the Church.

Now let's pause at Michalkiewicz's claim that holding the Church accountable for a crime committed by a priest is ludicrous, because it implies that the church hired Roman B. to abuse Katarzyna. This is a clear manipulation of the facts, the more disturbing given that Michałkiewicz is also a lawyer. The court held the Church accountable because the priest abused the child while doing a job he was hired for -- and not the other way around. According to the Polish Civil Code, in this case, it is the employer and not the employee who bears the civil responsibility.

The words of Korwin-Mikke and Michalkiewicz are also point-blanc examples of anti-women conspiracy theories. Both of them elaborate on the possible social implications of the punishment, which, in their eyes, will lead to women seducing harmless priests and then harassing the Church for money. They thus reproduce the centuries-old stereotypes about women as promiscuous sirens who lure weak-willed men and then use them in an instrumental way.

In this narration, men are never at fault. They are caught between their animal sexual needs and the cunning females.

Am I the only one who has had enough of this mentality?

Luckily, no. Despite the backlash of some conservative circles, the appellation court has recently confirmed the ruling of the regional court. The sentence is legally valid and rest is history.

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