Worry over Increase in Cases of Child Rape

Fri, Jan 31, 2014
By publisher


Nigerians are concerned over the increase in the number of children being raped by adults, especially now that the World Health Organisation says that a child is sexually abused every two minutes

|  By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Feb. 10, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

THE story of Funmilayo Adekoya, a nine year old girl who was lured into a sexual intercourse by a 56- year-old man at an apartment in Ikorodu area of Lagos made headline news in May 2013. Adekoya’s story drew reactions from far and wide because her parents were tenants in the house owned by Samson Shonuga, the man who defiled her. Two weeks after the incident, she was reported dead as a result of injuries sustained during the unholy act. Her story inundated newspaper pages and social media platforms with many people calling for Shonuga’s head.

The dust had barely settled on the Adekoya story when a similar case was reported at the Aguda police station in Surulere, Lagos. This time, an eight-year-old girl had been raped by her landlord’s 16-year-old son. Like Adekoya, she sustained some internal injuries but was lucky to be alive.

Nath Odi

One month into 2014, there have been countless reports of adults raping minors in various newspapers, television, radio and social media platforms. One of the recent cases is that of Yusuf Agboola, a 33-year-old man in Abeokuta, Ogun State, who is standing trial in a high court for allegedly having carnal knowledge of an unnamed under-aged girl. Odd as these experiences sound, it leaves no one in doubt that molestation of minors is on the rise in various parts of the country. It also gives credence to the “shocking” statistics revealed by the World Health Organisation, WHO, in 2012.

According to WHO, “a child is sexually abused every two minutes. Also in every 10 homes, one person is involved in child sexual abuse. WHO also stated that 90 percent of child sexual abusers are persons the child loves and trusts, while 95 percent of the children abused are acquainted with the abuser.”

What is more shocking is that the molestation of minors is growing in Nigeria, where there is an active law that guarantees the protection of under-aged persons from such acts. Under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, minors or underage persons are considered to be juveniles because they are below the age of 18 years. However, the increasing cases of molestation of minors nowadays have thrown up certain questions regarding the adequacy of the Nigerian legal system in safeguarding their rights. The problem is compounded by the fact most of the assault cases involving minors remain unresolved.

A lot of factors have been adduced as reasons for the rise of child molestation cases in Nigeria. While some see it as fallout of the adoption of western culture by Nigerians, a few opine that the inability of men to tame their sexual urge is the main reason why the trend is on the rise.

Lydia Adesomoju, a gender advocate in Abuja, said cases of child molestation have become everyday occurrences because Africans are abandoning their own culture and taking up western lifestyles. “It is not African to have intercourse with an under aged person. But it is becoming common because people now copy what they see abroad. They watch these things in movies and they want to experiment it here.”

Charles Ndiokwelu

Rita Odia, the programme officer of Girls of Virtues, a non-governmental organisation in Abuja, believes that men who lure under aged girl to their beds are lacking in self control. She added that any decent man would be able to draw a line and know that having sex with a child was not the right thing to do. “It is not a matter of culture but a matter of self control. A decent man would definitely know that having sex with a child is a no go area.”

Odia also disclosed that a large number of child molestation cases are unreported because the victims are afraid of being stigmatised by the society. “Our society stigmatise the victims that is why many of the victims don’t like coming out. If every child molestation case is reported and the perpetrators are prosecuted, there will be so many perverts in jail now.”

There are also people who believe that the menace of child molestation is on the increase “because we are living in the end time.” Some analysts also express concern that the rising molestation of minors would have a long term effect on the future leaders of the nation, hence, the need to initiate pragmatic measures to tackle the menace and protect the interest of Nigerian children.

Nath Odi, a pastor, said the development is one of the signs that the world is coming to an end. “These things have already been predicted in the bible so it should not be a surprise to us. What we should do is to ensure that we train our children well so that they will be ready for the coming of Christ.”

Psychologists, however, hinged the development on some psychological deficiencies. Toba Alegbeleye, a professor of psychology at Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, while speaking on a radio programme in Abuja, blamed increasing rate of molestation of minors on failed marriages and family institutions which allowed children of such unions to be kept in the hands of questionable characters. He said that factors that aided minors’ molestation included increasing poor standard of living and the current downturn in the national economy.

A suspect paraded at the Lagos high court for rape
A suspect paraded at the Lagos high court for rape

“Such cases crop up in families where the parents are not always around to take care of their children. It is only when the opportunity presents itself for the molester to carry out his evil act that he goes ahead to molest the minor; efforts should be made to forestall such opportunities.”

To stem the tide, parents and guardians have been advised to be mindful of the kinds of institutions and people that their children and wards are entrusted with. Some experts opined that there was the need for parents to monitor the institutions and people managing the children.

Charles Ndiokwelu, a public affairs analyst in Abuja, noted that that the family remained a dependent variable in efforts to tackle the incessant cases of molestation of minors across the country. He added that the family provides the foundation for societal development.

From a legal point of view, Chuks Ogu, a lawyer, accused parents of tacitly supporting child abuse. He said even though the extant laws were punitive enough to deal with culprits, Nigerians, especially parents were not allowing the laws to be applied to the fullest. “The problem is not the law but the willingness of the people to come forward to report such cases. Due to the poverty level of some parents, they compromise by collecting money from the culprit and the matter ends there.”