Recently a television show anchor Morayo Afolabi-Brown was slated for remarks a lot of her critics found disparaging and damaging to her her husband’s personal image. “I absolutely trust my husband,” Afolabi-Brown said.
“But I won’t take chances and have him bathe my daughter because whether we like it or not, there is something flying in the air these days that is encouraging imbalance and immoralities.”
Her remark was trailed with mixed reactions and it sparked an outrage on social media over the discussion Morayo and others on the show had on sexual abuse viz-a-viz the relationship between father and daughter as part of their Rape Series and if boundaries should be set in this type of relationship. Morayo said her decision was borne out of her fear due to the accelerated increase in sexual assaults on little girls which in some cases are being perpetrated by their fathers.
Afolabi-Brown’s comment might have come off in a way she did not intend, but she had real concerns about the rate at which young girls are getting violated by people they trust and respect.
Earlier this year, 13-year old Ochanya Ogbanje, a student of Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) in Gboko, Benue died from complications of “Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF)” and other related complications that arose as a result of alleged serial sexual abuses by her uncle and his son.
The Child Rights Act notes that sex with a minor is rape, and anyone who has sexual relations with a child is liable to imprisonment for life upon conviction.
Child abuse is one of the most prevalent forms of assault in Nigeria; a report by UNICEF reveals that there is a high incidence of violence against children in all the states of the country. The survey also stated that one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence, while one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence by a parent or adult relative.
Child abuse is not limited to physical violence; it also constitutes emotional violence. However, sexual abuse is one of the most traumatising forms of violence against children. It is often committed by a person in a position of power and trust in the child’s life and it transverses ethnic, economic and social lines.
Some highlights of the reactions that trailed Morayo’s comment were angst and indignation especially by men who claimed that “A father is a daughter’s first love and a son’s first hero” and fathers who professed to be in close-knit relationship with their daughters and recoiled at the notion of either physically or sexually abusing them.
It is widely believed that the presence of a strong male figure is critical in a young boy’s life, but it is equally pertinent for daughters to have the same influence. A positive father-daughter relationship can have a great impact on a young girl’s life because it builds her self-image, esteem and opinions of men, therefore, help in shaping her into a strong, confident woman.
However, the dynamics of father-daughter relations can be quite complex, which stirs up the subject of ‘setting boundaries’. Boundaries are indispensable elements in relationships and it is not limited to fathers and daughters, it also includes mothers and sons because child molestation is not gender-specific.
Although child sexual abuse is an offence under several sections of chapter 21 of the country’s criminal code, yet it suffers a significant neglect. Unfortunately, due to the weak child protection structure in Nigeria, there’s no substantial reprieve for the victims.
Nigeria is part of the 194 countries that signed the Convention to the Rights and Welfare of the Child, yet nothing considerable has been implemented by the government to protect children from sexual abuse. The decadent indulgences of paedophiles pose a serious threat to society, as they alter the psychology of children and predispose them to become traumatised adults. A way to curb the incidence of paedophiles is by prosecuting and serving stiffer penalties that will serve as a deterrent.