Entertainment

Documentary Daniel's World frames insights into pedophilia

Czech film explores the role attitudes can play in treatment.

Daniel, left, and a fellow “chaste pedophile” in a scene from the Czech film Daniel’s World.

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Daniel, left, and a fellow “chaste pedophile” in a scene from the Czech film Daniel’s World.

The phrase ‘virtuous pedophile’ may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s the self-identifying term chosen by a group of men who have committed to never — ever — act on their sexual attraction to children.

According to Dr. James Cantor, senior scientist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, pedophilia is like a sexual orientation, inborn and immutable.

“One lesson is the distinction between child molesters, who are criminals that we have to deal with, and pedophiles who are just kind of born — through no fault of their own — with an attraction to children,” says Cantor.

The film Daniel’s World, which premieres in Canada this month, offers more insight from the perspective of the chaste pedophile. The documentary follows Daniel as he meets his sexologist and fellow pedophiles, seeking to understand and suppress his desires.

For Daniel, a young Czech writer grappling with his sexual identity, living an ethical life means forgoing erotic fulfilment and all hope of finding a suitable life partner.

“The most dangerous things are stereotypes,” director Veronika Liskova tells Metro via Skype from the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. “I believe that if we know more about the real dangers, then our children can live their lives and we can better protect them.”

For Cantor, that means Canada should follow Germany’s lead and abolish therapists’ mandatory reporting requirements so pedophiles can seek treatment without punishment.

“The only logical thing to do is to help these people live and work in society in a productive way. After 30 years of trying, writing them off as evil hasn’t helped. If anything, it’s made things worse,” he says. 

“Now instead of having pedophiles out in society and receiving whatever they need to take the edge off the problem and lead a law-abiding life — psychotherapy, sex drive medication, whatever it is — we have these pedophiles out in society completely unknown and completely unsupervised by anybody. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Story makes abuse survivor ‘nervous’

Glori Meldrum is a sexual abuse survivor, and the founder of Little Warriors, a national charity committed to preventing and treating childhood sexual abuse.

“Everybody deserves to tell their story,” she says, “but it also makes me a bit nervous. It’s not like people monitor their every action — you can’t prove they’re not doing anything to kids. This film is like, ‘He’s got to live with all this stuff.’ The other piece is people like me and the kids that we treat — you should see what we’re living with.”

Now screening

Daniel’s World is playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Nov. 12 as part of Toronto’s Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, rendezvouswith-madness.com.

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