In today's news, it has been revealed that a 'Jimmy Savile and schoolgirls' float was entered into a parade in Berwickshire. The parade that was following the Lauder Common Rider Celebrations saw a man dressed up as Jimmy Savile, surrounded by other men dressed as scantily clad schoolgirls that were supposed to be reminiscent of his victims. Members of the local Twenty 10 club entered the float into the parade on the 31st of July and it was later awarded third place in the Best Vehicle category.
Offensive and insensitive are but two words that I feel perfectly describe the float. We all know that child abuse is no laughing matter and I find it appalling that a group of grown ADULTS feel that they can satirise his actions now that the scandal has calmed down. Although we have heard less news lately about Jimmy Savile's actions, this does not make them any less horrific as he has robbed so many children of their childhoods and will have left them emotionally scarred for the rest of their lives.
Was it just pure stupidity that motivated the men to create the float? Or maybe they were simply unaware of the severity of Savile's abuse? If anything can illustrate the impact that he had in the history of child sexual abuse cases, it is Operation Yewtree. This was an investigation conducted into Savile in late 2012 which resulted in a whopping 589 victims of child abuse come forward, of whom 450 alleged abuse by Savile. Of these victims, 82% were female and 80% were children or young people. Moreover, there were a staggering 31 allegations of rape by Saville across 7 police force areas.
Surely if the people at the parade knew these facts, they wouldn't have dressed up as 'Jimmy Savile and his schoolgirls?' If they realised that he abused the trust the nation had of him, they would have thought twice before glorifying a paedophile? It was after typing the word glorifying, that I contemplated something unimaginable. Were those men in fact glorifying Jimmy Savile as the paedophile that he was? Although it could have been sheer ignorance that made them create the float, there is the possibility that men may have seen him as a 'lad' for some of what he did and therefore wanted to celebrate that through the float. I am not for a minute saying that was their definite motivation because after all, only they will know why they created the float in the first place.
Whether it was an act of appreciation or nothing more than a sick joke, I think there is a very thin line between making a slightly distasteful comment can be easily overlooked and then mocking a man who in reality, abused hundreds of children and adults, with his youngest victim being just 5 years old. To me, the difference between black humour and downright disrespect is huge and whilst Jimmy Savile may be dead, his victims aren't and have to live with the emotional pain and suffering that he inflicted upon them.
The damage has already been done and nothing- be it counselling or compensation- can make up for the sixty years of harrowing abuse that Savile somehow managed to hide. However, what we can do is show our respect to the victims so that they no longer feel alone in their suffering, and if this takes keeping a tasteless joke behind closed doors- then I think we have the capability to manage that.