SEXUAL ABUSE AND NIGERIA
Sexual abuse of children is the ‘involvement of a child in sexual behaviour that he or she does not understand, or provide consent to’. The act that violates the laws or social taboos of society. It is a violation of a child’s rights as well as a social and public health issue. It affects people of all socioeconomic, and racial backgrounds. Nigeria is not an exception. Nigerian women have and still are victims of this atrocity .
STORY OF NIGERIAN WOMEN THAT NEEDS TO BE HEARD
This is a story of an unfortunate event experienced by Miss Debbie from south southern Nigeria. She shared her story on how she silently endured the pain of sexual abuse by her elder cousin aged only 10. In her story, she reported that at the time, her family and the family of her cousin were very close. They regularly spent their holidays in each other homes. When the family of her cousin came to spend holidays with her family, this was the beginning of the abuse.
UNTOLD AND UNAWARE
She further explained that it was normal in her family to ‘sleep altogether with cousins, as they were young and viewed each other as siblings’. On the night this act act of sexual abuse occurred, she was sleeping with all her cousins in her room including her elder male cousin. She reported feeling a sense of someone was laying on her body, but she could not get up to see who was doing this to her, and the lights to the room were off. She got up immediately and turned on the lights and noticed that her elder cousin was not asleep yet acted as though he was sleeping.
FEAR AND IMPUISSANCE
Miss Debbie further narrated this hurtful story of sexual abuse, as something so ‘shocking’ and she described it as ‘heart-breaking’. Her mind failed to comprehend what was happening, since she was just 10 years old. She could not tell anyone. She still was unaware of the name or the meaning of this heinous crime, but knew something was wrong. Her cousin never acknowledged what he did, and did not stop being inappropriate, he touched her in inappropriate places continuously. She mentioned not being educated on issues surrounding sexual abuse, and was unable to defend herself from his ‘behaviour’. She continued feeling ‘uncomfortable and afraid’, to report this. When she is lucky enough to sleep in her mother’s room, she found herself crying on the floor. And spent many other nights stuck in a continues circle of abuse and fear.
This is the story of one Nigerian woman, Miss Debbie whose painful childhood still haunts her. Thus raising questions regarding the safety of other women who are still silent, and who still remain victims of sexual abuse by men. This needs to stop. Both individuals and the Nigerian government must consider women’s safety and must establish proper rights for Nigerian women because above all, women are also human.