This feature describes the horrifying experiences of victims of child sexual exploitation, most of which are perpetrated by people they trusted. The Explainer Gender and Human Rights Reporter, Utitofon Idara, focuses on instances of sexual exploitation, and its devastating effects on victims.
Sexual Exploitation is taking advantage of an individual person’s vulnerable situation such as age, sex, or a dependent state on a stronger individual. The vulnerable are usually called the victim while the others are the perpetrator. Child sexual exploitation simply put is the exploitation of children or minors sexually. Mostly, these dastardly acts are perpetrated by those known by these children, among who are: uncles, aunties, neighbors, and family friends.
On concerns for such children, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported in 2015 that “one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before they turn 18. According to a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access, over 31.4 percent of girls here said that their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind”. Premium Times of March 28, 2022 reports that The executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Tony Ojukwu said “Out of 913,197 cases received by the commission in 2021 on women and children,158,517 cases were on sexually and gender-based violence (SGBV)” On the other hand, the Child’s Right Act of 2003 (CRA) says that “Sexual Intercourse with a person less than 18 years old is called rape”
“it goes on to state specific rights for children including the “rights to survival, a name, family life, private life, dignity, recreation, cultural activities, health services, and education” So far 24 out of 36 states of Nigeria have adopted the CRA as state law” If this Act was earlier promulgated years back and proper awareness created in schools, and recreation places, maybe below experiences of these two victims would have been avoided.
Somewhere in Enugu State, Nigeria, a lady named Jane had an older sister and it so happened that the two were very close. Everyone in the neighborhood praised them for their closeness, and the older sister was especially praised for loving and showering her third baby sister with all the love in the world. Little did people or even the parents know, however, that her love for the young girl was not without a hidden agenda as every time she takes her 4 years old baby sister out for a cup of ice cream, once they return, straight to the room she takes her, in there, the younger sister will be forced to suck the elder’s private part and engage in sexually exploitative acts.
This situation continued till the little sister turned 6 years old. Then she started to hate her older sister so much, no one in the family was able to place a finger on why there was so much hatred between the two sisters who were once admired by all for their closeness and love for each other. She grew with this pain and hatred till they all left home. The parents and other siblings never got a wave of this secret except for the duo. Jane is today married and blessed with 3 children. She tried to put the past behind her, but now in her late 40s, she was only able to confide in a friend just 5 years back about how her eldest sister had sexually exploited her while she was young. She expressed that the hatred is still there for her eldest sister.
A youngster in Lagos named Yomi from a shattered home took the decision to seek refuge with his paternal uncle to escape the suffering his stepmother put him through. However, while he was there, his aunt, who also lived there, began molesting him from the age of 10. Guess her methods? When the boy cries, she claims the boy refuses to be scrubbed clean, hence, the uncle will shout from the living room that she should increase the beating saying he does not want a dirty person around him, so she goes into the bathroom with a weeping stick in her hands and forces this boy to sleep with her. I mean, a boy of that age to a woman in her 30s. As a result, she gets the chance to beat the youngster and ensure that he stays in there sleeping with her till she orgasms.
This worked for her for years because it is a common attitude for some parents to let their adult siblings bathe alongside their younger ones, according to their mental figures, these children know nothing about sexual organs. This ‘acceptable’ norm made them feel unconcerned about the time she and the boy spent in the bathroom. Everyone thinks the boy is a very difficult child who needs to be beaten every time to have his bath but they have no idea that the boy is being made to sleep with a lady who is precisely his mother’s age. In his own case he was bold enough to tell his uncle what he was passing through, but for this, no one believed him, the uncle was so furious and beat him up, so one can only imagine the ‘joy’ in the evil aunt’s mind as she increased the boy’s pains in the bathroom and this continued for a whole 6 years.
The Explainer reporter asked why he didn’t go back to his father’s house. He said “as far as his case was concerned, continuing in his uncle’s place with the pains was still better than his own father’s house”, he had to endure all through till he moved to yet another place for shelter.
Certain things stand out above, one, being their ages and the fact that these two victims were unable to relate this sad experience to his/her biological parents because these parents were either out of reach or there was a total communication breakdown. Some parents trust too much or do not care what happens in the life of their children feeling that providing the basic luxury of life a child needs is all there is. Despite the fact that Jane lived with her parents, she was not able to tell them or her other siblings what her older sister was doing or did to her. This could be a result of her parents being too busy to have a heart-to-heart talk with their children or outright carelessness.
Yomi on the other hand never had the opportunity of getting any way close to his father for fear of the stepmother or his biological mother to tell his pains. Unfortunately, both of them could not turn to anyone else, hence, they both grew up with that feeling that the world is exactly what they were experiencing and this caused both of them to perpetually live in fear of people around them and so much afraid of the unknown. As it is our custom, the explainer reporter decides to visit a psychologist to ask what effects the above has on these innocent victims of circumstances while growing up, especially considering the fact that none of the two children ever visited a counselor or a psychologist to help them work consciously out of this trauma.
Here is what Dr Iwowarri Berian James, a Managerial and Energy psychologist who works as an Emotional Trauma Resolution Expert has to say.
“the effect will be very devastating for these children, because, when they were having that experience, they did not know what they were doing, so at a point, they would not even know whether it is a problem or not, but as they grow up they begin to have self-awareness and they will begin to appreciate that they have lost something, that they have lost their innocence and how they lost their innocence is a circumstance that they could not help at that particular time, they were helpless, so it will be trauma to them”
Now, what can we do?
“This is also part of the Adverse Childhood Experiences, (ACE) and most times this affects the way an individual behaves in adulthood, the person might develop hatred for not only the predator but other opposite sex and might also develop a lack of respect for the opposite sex. so the bad behavior could be the coping mechanism they have put in place when agitation comes up. So what individuals affected need to do is to get a therapist to help them clear those bad images that they have recorded in their subconscious mind which from time to time play out and cause them to act in a particular manner. Not just any therapist, now, we have what we call Energy Psychology which is a powerful modality in resolving any adverse childhood experiences, and trauma and restoring dignity and confidence in an individual.
“This is what they can do now in order to become the kind of person they want to be. it will clean their minds of that debris and the traumatic experiences and help them move forward in life”
One can only imagine what these children went through bearing in mind that there was nothing like a visit to a therapist in these two cases. Jane is concentrating on her family while Yomi in his late 50s tries to help everyone that comes around him because to put it in his words “I know what it means to be poor while growing up, I vowed to overcome all the pains I went through and to make sure I provide for myself and to assist those who might go through what I went through. No one deserves the pains I went through, everyone deserves to be happy”.
It is clearly written in the CRA that children have specific rights. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that parents give the rights to their children, Parents must come to terms with the fact that it is not enough to bring children into the world but to care for and protect them from all forms of pain, especially sexual predators.