ACCORDING According to the nudist, Jim Olsen, when it comes to intimacy, ”there are age-appropriate loving gestures, and there are harmful actions. One doesn’t need a PhD to know the difference.” What then is it with children, toddlers, and the underage, that they have become so s3xually attractive of recent to some adults in Nigeria? This question, as awkward as it may sound, derives its relevance from the growing narrative on the new menace of child molestation that has become almost commonplace now in the country.
A few days ago, I read the awful report of Idoko Nathaniel, a 50 year-old school headmaster in Enugu, allegedly defiling four of the pupils under his care, with none older than 6 years of age, in a bush. Then, there was another damning report from Ogba about a 27 year-old teacher, Afeez Balogun, caught pants down with a 2 year old girl in a classroom after school hours. Still consumed with the agony of these two reports, came another news of a 30 year-old man, Adewale Olakusi, arrested by the police in Ogun State for having unlawful carnal knowledge of a 13-year old girl in Ota area of Adoodo/Ota Local Government. Yet, these are only but a few instances of the many reports on child defilement that we now have in the country.
Child s3xual abuse in itself is an act so damaging and selfish that it should be unreservedly frowned at by all, because for a few moments of pleasure, the perpetrator causes the child immense trauma for the rest of his or her life. I would argue, for instance, that every discussion of the subject should make it unequivocally clear that, however “pedophilia” is defined, s3x with underaged children is a horrific evil and thus, intolerable. Indeed, it may be compared to a combination of torture and rape of adults; even after the act is over, it continues to wound. It fills the child with undeserved shame and low self-esteem and for some survivors later in life, this pain becomes so unbearable that they take their own lives. Similarly, it permanently alters the child’s understanding of s3x; some suffer from nymphomania, and some become completely closed off to all s3xual relationships. Most worrisome however is that, s3xually abused children are more likely to be abusers themselves when they grow up.
Furthermore, the molestation of any child by an adult is, from every and any perception, a catty act, a deliberately malicious exploitation of the child, even as it is a heinous crime, because any child at whatever age, from birth to the age of 18, has an inviolate right to be protected by the same adults from predators who would knowingly cause them harm emotionally, physically, psychologically and s3xually. The mind of a child is not fully developed and has no understanding of grown up matters nor should they be introduced to s3xual practices just for the pleasure of people who are depraved and would rob a child of not only his or her innocence, but future as well.
With this in mind, the damage done to a s3xually abused child is severe and unalterable; it can never be undone. That any adult would be so callous and mean, so self-indulgent as to ruin a child’s life just for the sake of personal sick pleasure is a serious crime, that should be properly conceived in the mould of violent rape or murder if we are to get serious about this new vicious damage to children. When predators violate children and take away their sense of security, peace of mind, make them live in fear and terror and take away their lives, this should be punishable to the highest degree by law. It is really a crime against humanity as it seeks to destroy the future of humanity residing in these children. I have no clue how much control pedophiles have over their s3xual preferences, but they are adults with rational minds and should know the difference between right and wrong, and as such should be held responsible for their vicious acts. In any case, nothing could be said to justify an inherently damaging act against innocent children.
Yet it has to be stated that there is a sense in which the increasing spate and the consistent reports of child molestation and child s3xual abuse by pedophiles in Nigeria represent a sad commentary on the chasm into which national values, like the protection of children rights, have sunk in Nigeria. Not only does these narratives of replete underage children’s abuse drip with the increasingly loose, lewd and base language and direction of our society, they also poignantly show and reflect how futile the lackadaisical attempt to to curb this menace through the normal routine to arrest, detain, bail, case dismiss and pat predators on the back thought processes by government authorities has been and become in Nigeria.
Evidently, we all must come to the realization that the growing menace of child s3xual abuse is an evil requiring concerted efforts by all, particularly the governments, to stem and arrest it because of its grave implications for the future of our society. We must see this menace as an emergency deserving of enhanced activities and tactics and strategies by the governments and the entire society to make it clear that pedophilia is not acceptable nor going to be tolerated in the country and that every thing would be done to seek out and properly punish every pedophile. This way, we would be sending strong signals that our society recognizes and intends to maximally protect the right of children to live free from violence of any kind, including s3xual assault and abuse, which harms their physical and mental growth and inhibits the growth of the society and destroys its economies and future. In this regard, appropriate authorities would need to step up to the plate and protect innocent children that are currently daily falling victim of this nefarious act. We all must recognize the need to take urgent action to address continuing s3xual violence against children, both for the sake of the children themselves and for the well being of future generations. This is the way to say loudly and clearly that this evil is not acceptable and would not be condoned in Nigeria.
- Yakubu is of the Department of Mass Communication, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria.