SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS AND THE SILENCE THEREIN (Part 2)

SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS AND THE SILENCE THEREIN (Part 2)

 

While it is generally acknowledged that sexual abuse exists in Nigeria there is high level of silence on this issue. For instance; cases of sexual abuse against under aged girls and vulnerable women are quietly sorted out and are not brought into the public domain. As a consequence, available statistics concerning the prevalence of sexual abuse of minors in Nigeria are very limited. Similarly, statistics cannot be too accurate not only because of the problem associated with Social Science Research but basically because of the prevalence  of non-reporting of sexual offences, or what Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) calls the culture of silence.  According to CBCN: “To say that there have been no reported cases of sexual abuse of minors requiring legal action in itself is no good news. Because we know that cases like that abound only that victims of sexual abuse out of shame and the desire to safeguard their honour and dignity wallow in pains for years. Our culture actually nurtures this culture of silence, and this in no small way portends great danger.”[1]

 

This culture of silence is also due to  variety of factors such as the social stigma, poverty, lack of sex education,  more abuses as a result of the report, fear of retribution and ridicule, and lack of confidence in investigators, police and health workers alike.[2] Similarly, Clinicians and researchers on sexual abuse of minors hold that the problem is underreported based on the notion that a good chunk of adults did not report their victimization at the time of its occurrence.[3]  Olaitan and Idowu corroborated this fact when they argued that abuse against children is rampant yet largely under-reported. For them, this is based on justification of certain forms of abuses associated with cultural practices. Fear of their assailants’ threats or their parent’s reaction may be the cause of this reluctance. Also, some children may be either too young to understand their experience or unable to speak for themselves.[4] No doubt, the rate of under-reports or silence on the issue of sexual abuse of minors in Nigeria makes this phenomenon very strange to deliberation and literature. Therefore, Nigerians should not just make noise on social media platforms, they shouldalso have legal, pastoral and psychological channels to air our anxieties.

Daniel Evbotokhai (Fr.)

[1] Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria, Guidelines  p. 13

[2]  Folake Bejide “ Male Child Victim of Sexual Abuse in Nigeria” in  Frontiers of Legal Research  Vol. 2, No. 1, 2014,  p.84  http://www.cscanada.net/index.php/flr/article/ view/10.3968/5746 DOI: 10.3968/5746  retrieved 10/5/2020

[3]  Diana E. H. Russell  “The Incidence and Prevalence of Interfamilial and Extra familial Sexual Abuse of Female Children.” In  Kathleen Coulborn Faller Child Sexual Abuse p. 16

[4] Olaitan O. Olusegun and Amos A. Idowu, “Child Abuse in Nigeria: Dimension, Reasons for its Persistence and Probable Solutions” in Child and Family Law Journal, Vol.4, Issue 1, 2016 p. 1

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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.

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