What changed? Many things. Women were allowed to vote, to own our children, to gain an education, to work in the professions, to inherit and own property, to serve on juries, to control reproduction. Women were able to become doctors and lawyers and elected officials and judges. We came out of isolation in patriarchal homes and roles. We started talking to each other, comparing our experiences.
This is what happens where there is a critical mass of empowered individuals. They have the ability to catalyze consciousness-raising and activism toward social change among the other members of their community.
When a charge of sexual abuse is brought forward officially, it will always need to be an adult bringing it forward. There will always need to be adults eliciting, transcribing the story. And, as these adults attempt to bridge the language and perception barriers, they become vulnerable to charges of manipulating the child, implanting suggestions… recruiting the child in an act of spite or revenge.
And, then, of course, there is the media circus around an incest accusation. The ordeal that the child will have to survive. Many parents and sometimes prosecuting attorneys make the decision not to press charges. This is especially true when the perpetrator is a celebrity or public figure. And when charges are dropped, the world takes that as proof that it was all made up in the first place.
If the perpetrator is careful not to leave any physical evidence, he or she can pretty much count on indemnity.
But this kind of justice is not possible for children. We adults must always interpret, intercede, mediate, judge, indict, sentence. And we are doing a terrible job.