I was part of a research team, who surveyed available social services for child protection in Lagos State, where I reside recently. One fear, which I had before, which was again confirmed was that cases of sexual abuse against the child is swept under the carpet more than any form of abuse. Today, I will be sharing with you the 7 fundamental reasons, why I believe cases of child sexual abuse are swept under the carpet.
Tomorrow, by the grace of God, I will share with you the steps, I believe can be taken to deal with the identified reasons.
- The Culture of stigma: Parents and other custodians fear the stigma that the society attaches to the victim of child sexual abuse.
- Poverty: many custodians do not have the resources to purse justice for their sexually abused children. In many other cases, the offender capitalizes on the poverty of the parents to offer them money. I have found that in most cases, the parents collect the money and frustrate the process of bringing the offender to book. We recently had a matter where a child was sexually molested by a teacher in a public school in Lagos. The teacher was arrested. Later we had information that the teacher gave the parents the sum of N30, 000 and that was the end of pursuit of justice for the parents.
- Ignorance: many parents are ignorant of what to do or who to call in cases of child sexual abuse.
- Fear: the perpetrator of child sexual abuse and the community may threaten the parents in some cases. At this point the parents keep their mouth shut for their personal safety and the safety of their children.
- Lack of support and encouragement: when parents decide to pursue the case of child sexual abuse, they are swimming against the tide. In most cases the matter cannot be resolved over night. It is always a long-drawn battle, particularly because of the snail pace at which our justice system dispenses justice. For this kind of long-drawn battle, the parents or custodians need all the support from members of society like Non-governmental organizations, faith-based organization. It will not be a bad idea for Non-governmental organizations to facilitate support groups for parents of victim of child sexual abuse. Such critical support does not exist in our clime.
- Closeness to the perpetrator: most cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by those who are close to the family. It therefore becomes difficult for the parents to seek justice against an offender.
- Shortsightedness: many parents are not aware of the future impact of an unaddressed case of sexual abuse on the child. Once a child is sexually abused, she needs medical and emotional healing. In most cases the child is not exposed to medical treatment not to talk of emotional treatment. Later in this program you will learn more about the impact of child sexual abuse on a child.
I beg to sign out here. I urge you today to Think the Child…Think Today…Think the Future…