[UPDATE: We have been informed that Kelen Koh has since left Teenage. The article is corrected to remove her information and we apologise for the error.]
After a facepalm week, leave it to Singapore’s Teenage Magazine to hit the final nail on the coffin when their popular Dear Kelly column dished out victim-blaming advice after a few readers wrote in saying they were raped, with one girl saying she stayed at her “best friend’s house” although he was a mere casual acquaintance.
What follows afterwards is a series of one-liners from Kelly that accuse the girl of not protecting herself instead of blaming the rapist for his actions.
“I am amazed you were so bold to agree to stay over at a guy’s house with no one else in residence. Didn’t you think you might give the guy the wrong idea about the type of girl you are?” said Kelly.
Kelly even goes one step further to state that the girl could not blame the rapist after he said there was no one else in the house but the both of them.
“His point is that he never misled you.”
After an incident in which a rapist got a girl drunk before he did the deed, Kelly said, “You gave every indication you were a willing player in his unfolding seduction plan… you acted like a girl who has been around.”
She even asked the girl to “be grateful that he wore a condom” and told her that she is “better off staying close to home”.
The column is written by Kelly Chopard, who claims to offer “tough love” and “no-nonsense” advice in her column since it started in 1996. According to her biography on the column, she was a member of the People’s Association Team in the 1970s counselling youths on drugs and other health and social issues.
The liners went viral Friday, in a post by Sara Janelle that has broken 980 shares as of press time. The magazine later replied to Sara’s post, saying “it was never the intention of Teenage to condone rape and victim-blaming” – a reply that did not go well with netizens who felt the magazine was shirking responsibility.
In a later reply, Teenage apologised on their Facebook page, saying that it was a sign society should talk about consent, including “for guys to know that intimacy should never be forced – especially if the other party is inebriated”.
Teenage publisher Key Editions runs other titles such as parenting publication Singapore’s Child and design publication Squarerooms. Publisher cum Editorial Director of Key Editions Foo Mei Siah can be reached at [email protected]
Johanna Teo was promoted to Deputy Editor at Teenage this March, after being a writer with the magazine. She oversees editorial strategy at Teenage and manages the editorial team across both print and digital platforms. She can be reached at [email protected]
Already, one media buyer has threatened not to fund placements in Key Edition’s titles. Kenneth Lee, who runs strategy and marketing for mall myVillage at Serangoon Gardens, said he will no longer consider buying ad space in the magazine “until they stop Kelly’s column and apologise on print to the letter writer”.
Gender advocacy group AWARE criticised Teenage, with head of advocacy and research Jolene Tan saying that the magazine should publish an apology in the next issue and that their young readers “deserve media outlets that act with responsibility and empathy”.