In recent times, reports of rape and paedophilia have been hitting the pages of dailies and social media. There were stories of how young kids were sexually abused, molested and aspiring women made to face horrifying experience.
Cases of rape and act of paedophilia have become a daily occurrence. It’s a barbaric act against everyone: young or old, male or female, though it has a higher rate of occurrence among the latter.
It is pertinent to understand that a nexus exists among rape, defilement and pedophilia in terms of the abuse and imprint left on their victims; and so they are mostly used interchangeably.
By and large, defilement is believed to be an unlawful sexual intercourse with an underage below 12; while rape, the same act above the aforementioned age. This is explained by Section 218 of the 2004 Criminal Code Act.
Regardless, the feature is sexual abuse against humanity. They are acts that have rendered many people useless. Children with great dreams of becoming a doctor, lawyer, banker, etc have watched such tall ambitions collapse or taken away by some serial abusers.
Rape/paedophilia is an act that hurts the victims in physically, psychologically and sociologically. Victims of this act suffer depression, panic attack, self- blame, isolation, aggression, feeling of shame and suicide.
The effects of sexual assault is more severe on the part of females as they are the major victims of the barbaric act. Heath problems, such as vaginal bleeding or infection, hyper active sexual disorder, unwanted pregnancy, vagina inflammation, HIV/AIDS and even death occurs as the result of this act.
As if that is not enough, victims and family as a result have to live the rest of their lives in stigmatisation and infamy.
Young kids with bright future have been made to lose their self-esteem because of the cruel act of pedophilia against them.
Earlier this year, a picture of a young girl wearing a blood-stained white T-shirt up to her knee, went viral on social media. The girl was raped by an unknown man. Then I started to wonder: “How is she going to survive people’s harsh comments?”, “How will she cope in the world of hypocrites; where she’d be pitied for a while then mocked afterwards?”
Considering how dangerous and scary the act is, many laws have been passed to curb this menace. Nigeria alone has four laws put in place to address the issue of sexual abuse against children and women.
We have the Criminal Code which is applicable within the south; the Penal Code which is applicable within the north; The Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and the Child Right Act which was adopted in 2003.
Prevention they say, is better than cure. Thus, preventive measures should be adopted over curative ones. Life imprisonment, castrations, payment of fines etc, are all curative measures, which only focus on the perpetrators and not the welfare and future of the victims.
Punishing the offender is fundamental. However, that’s not all. After all, India gives death penalty to rapists, yet India remains one of the top 10 countries in the world with the highest rate of sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, the one million question here is: “What is the way out? How do we eradicate rape/paedophilia for good in Nigeria?”
Well, it starts with the family.
The first agent of socialisation is the family. To be able to curb the menace of rape/paedophilia, the family is needed to provide basic education and care to their wards.
The rise or fall of any country lies in the hands of family upbringing. We live in a world where parents have little or no time for their children, they put strangers in care of their children, exposing them to danger.
I could remember, when I was much younger. My mom would call on us and give us sexual orientation. She even came up with the idea of telling us: “If a man touches you, your stomach will get big and you’d die.”
But many parents have replaced that with the search for greener pastures. Imagine a mother going to work by 7:00 am and returning by 9:00 pm when the kids would have been on bed.
Most parents would give the oscillating economy and survival instinct as excuses for lack of quality time with their wards. Regardless, I believe parents should dedicate time for their kids.
Every kid deserves sex education. Teach them body features considered “private parts”.
You might be worried about how to educate them if they’re young; however there’s something I read, called: “age appropriate messaging”.
It’s not too big to tell a three year-old girl “Don’t sit on a man’s lap”; “Don’t allow any man touch your breast or vagina.” Parents should maintain a closer relationship with their children. Ask them not to keep secret as their rapists would obviously tell them “Don’t tell anyone”.
In addition, parents shouldn’t leave their children alone with a stranger or family members when they won’t be around for long. Most acts of sexual abuse are done mostly by close and trusted relations.
Just like the case of the 27-year-old man caught fondling his 11-month-old niece in Ogun State. There is also the need for parents to censor what their children view, their watchlist must be appropriate with their age.
The next in line is the society. Sexual abuse is being trivialised, victims are being stigmatised and blamed for the act of the perpetrators.
This is one of the reason most victims or victim’s family keep mute and do nothing when it’s obvious that the society would stigmatise and mock them.
To curb the menace of sexual abuse, society should be enlightened about the dangers of stigmatising victims as this has led many to either keep mute or even commit suicide.
Another major thing is the issue of drug abuse. Drug abusers are more prone to be sexual abusers. Most of the perpetrators of sexual abuse are drug addicts, which makes them lose their sense of thinking.
Ritual. Most of the perpetrators of sexual abuse are ritualists in need of female genitals, virgin blood etc.
Lastly, is the issue of gender inequality. Due to the general belief that women are considered weaklings, they keep getting violated by men. This notion should be stopped henceforth.