Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another, when that force falls short of being a sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester.
The term also covers any behavior by any adult towards a child to stimulate either the adult or child sexually. When the victim is younger than the age of consent, it is referred to as child sexual abuse.
In some countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, sexual abuse is an offense punishable by judicial corporal punishment (in the form of caning) in addition to a jail term (and sometimes including a fine). The offense is known as outrage of modesty in Singapore, and refers to, but is not limited to, acts such as touching another person (usually a woman) in the private areas (breasts, thighs, genitals, buttocks) without the person's consent.
Sexual abuse and spanking
Spanking as such is not sexual abuse. This is because it is not sexual behavior but a form of corporal punishment. There are people from the anti-spanking camp that hold the view that spanking is always sexual abuse because it has the potential to stimulate either the spanker or the spankee sexually, as the human buttocks are an erogenous zone. This view has grown in acceptance over the past decades, but at the time of this writing, society worldwide generally does not share that extreme view. Instead, it is believed that spanking "as such" is not abuse, but it becomes a form of sexual abuse if and when:
- it is only given under the pretext of punishment with the true motive being sexual,
- it is given in such a way that sexual stimulation (of the spanker or the spankee) is likely to occur.
Sexual forms of spanking (consensual or nonconsensual) can be incestuous if the spanker and spankee are family members or close relatives.
Consensual spanking between partners above the age of consent is not sexual abuse even when it is clearly sexual behavior, because no abuse takes place when the activity is consensual.
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