Pride Conference

Danger! Act Now or Kill the Future

There is a danger staring us in the face, so scarily and silently prejudicing the future we all cherish for our children, but we seem to turn our backs in pretense we are less concerned. It will seems less important an issue when we table it in comparison with the present challenges bedeviling the nation especially the endless bloodbath in the northern part and the economic misdemeanor ravaging our country. Those directly affected are in the minority and their voices could not be heard. In fact, they prefer not be heard. Yet, they must be heard to prevent the danger inherent for the future.

Increasingly these days, we continue to read in the dailies the incessant sexual abuse of children. Innocent children who look up to the adult folks to protect them have become tools of relieving some foe’s sensual orgies. They become battered emotionally, psychologically and in some cases, health wise. They are left to bear burdens too heavy for their age. Yet, in many cases, the perpetrators never pay for their crime. Those I am talking about are not in the custody of the Boko Haram militants neither are they in the IDP camps. But right there in their supposedly save haven, they are being battered.

Like many in this nation, I haphazardly sat behind in vocalizing this evil activity razing our society until it happened right beneath my nose. It was one that left me more conscious than ever about little girls around me. It sounded preposterous in my ears when I heard it. That experience made me search for more and my findings left me stunned and I knew I must begin to act in my little ways to prevent it.

I was in my office in Lagos when I heard a knock on my door that wet afternoon. Although I wasn’t expecting any visitor, I was not surprised either. A woman entered calmly. I knew her quite well. In fact, she worked in the church as a part-time cleaner. Her face was pale and I felt uncomfortable with that. I enquired about what the matter was and the first answer I saw, rather than heard, was tears that rolled down her cheek.

By the time she finished the narration, I felt like being the judge to just sentence the man immediately. This woman’s husband had molested the twelve years old Bose, a cousin to this woman who was adopted from the village because the parents could not afford to sponsor her secondary education. Her only offence was that she was evolving, translating into teenage-hood.

I wanted to help but I didn’t know how. I referred them to my pastor and boss. After much discussion, they left. When I would find out the following week from the woman, the solution proffered was for the girl to be taken back to the village so that the man would not continue to molest her. I was not satisfied anyway and I confronted my boss. The only seemingly reasonable purpose for the advice was for the protection of the child.  Such case in a court would affect the child in the future. And the second? For the family to still remain as one.

I recalled a similar incidence a lady friend shared with me. This time, she was the victim. She bottled it up for a long time, not even her parents were aware. She vowed to deal with men. She tried her retaliatory move in the university and succeeded on two guys. Although I persuaded her, I am not sure my words have done much to heal her wounds. She is still unmarried until now (close to forty years of age) focusing much on her career.

How many ladies of this nature are living in our society today? In a research conducted by National Population Commission, one in every four girls experience sexual violence in Nigeria. In a similar research by Darkness to Light in 2007, it was discovered that about one in seven girls worldwide will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen. In a Bureau of Justice statistics report, (quoted from “1.6 % (sixteen out of one thousand) of children between the ages of 12-17 were victims of rape/sexual assault.” All these statistics show the magnitude of this deadly activity in our society.

I fear for the future of family system in our country. The same families we are trying to save are systematically being destroyed. Girls who are holding issues against their male counterparts will rather choose to stay apart from men than accept them as husbands. This is more reason lesbianism is gaining ground in the nation. I overheard a lady talking about preferring to be a ‘baby mama’ than stay with a man. This is now a new song being voiced by many girls. We do not seem to understand the gravity of this until we see all the values embedded in our culture being eroded by this evil act.

Not until perpetrators begin to face the music of their action, this inhumane action will continue unabated. We must begin to speak out against it. We must talk about it to our children and expose the tactics these evil men are using. These children must speak when anyone touch the ‘no go areas’ in their body even if it is their father. Observation is key. Adults must begin to be observant especially when another adult is a close area alone with a girl. No one is to be trusted these days. When we come in contact with such event, reporting to the authority should be prioritised before it is swept under the carpet like the case of Bose.

For us to give the future we desire for our kids, all hands must be on deck. We must all act in our little ways to prevent it from happening and do everything to ensure justice prevail for the victims to douse the imminent consequences in the future.

Written By Ajibade Aderogba

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