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PETALING JAYA, Feb 25 — A Singaporean female pastor said she had no intention of victim-blaming after writing a blog post advising women to dress modestly to help men control “lustful thoughts.”
In her apology, Joanne Chow, who is a youth pastor at the Pasir Panjang Hill Brethren Church, said she understood how her words may have come across as insensitive to victims of sexual assault.
She also clarified that her February 19 blog post on the Christian website Thir.st was not about sexual predation but was focused on how to help Christians avoid sexual temptation.
“To be clear, I do not advocate victim-blaming in any way. In any sex crime, the victim’s attire is irrelevant.
“Women are not responsible for men’s actions. I made the point about dressing modestly purely as an appeal for consideration, with the best of intentions,” said Chow.
The 38-year-old, who has three daughters, made the apology in a comment posted on Thir.st’s Instagram page which has since been buried by a wave of criticism.
Many have called out Chow’s advice and its shades of misogyny for telling women to think twice before donning a bikini, a skin-tight dress, or other revealing clothing.
“Can I also make a special appeal to the girls? Let’s help our brothers by not dressing in a revealing or provocative way.
“Of course you don’t have control over their lustful thoughts, and it may not be a sin to wear that skin-tight dress or post that bikini photo, but if we can help our brothers, why not?” wrote Chow in her original blog post.
Chow’s words came in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against world-famous Canadian evangelist Ravi Zacharias.
After a four-month investigation, a law firm hired by the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries found credible evidence that the late Christian leader had spent years sexually abusing massage therapists and soliciting hundreds of explicit photos from young women.
Besides advising women to cover up, Chow responded to the revelations by telling Christians to “put distance between you and that which will tempt you” by filtering mature content from their social media accounts.
She also advised Christians to “stop watching certain shows” to keep their desires in check.
In her apology, Chow wrote that both men and women have a part to play in fighting “sexual temptation” and emphasised that this issue was the main focus of her original blog post.
“As a woman, I wrote the article to speak to other females who want to take sexual temptation and their part in the church seriously,” she said.