Statistically Speaking On Rising Cases Of Child Sexual Abuse In Lagos

By Sandra Ijeoma Okoye

When statistics from the Lagos Ministry of Youth and Social Development in 2021 revealed that a large number of Lagos children were being defiled sexually, and that1005 cases were reported in 2020, not few parents were taken aback. According to the statistics submitted through the Child Protection Information Management Systems (CPIMS), from the Child Protection Unit of The Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Lagos state, about 2,154 child abuse cases were reported in Lagos state in the year 2020, and sexual defilement tops the record with 1005 cases.

Against the backdrop of the grim reality, one can in this context opine that when a person discovers that his or her partner has cheated, the betrayal can be very hard to bear. In addition to the pain caused by the infidelity, being lied to on such a major scale can be devastating to the victim’s self-esteem. Feelings of contemptibility, nastiness, hollowness, ineffectualness and melancholy may follow. Friends may rally around to offer the victim moral support, but the victim alone must find the bravery and coping skills within, to move on.

In fact, most adults have developed adequate decision-making, coping, and analytical skills, along with a reasonable sense of steadfastness, to get over the pain and heartache caused by infidelity. Nevertheless, when it comes to parting with someone you love, the array of feelings associated are many; some people have described the experience as equivalent to mourning.

When you ponder over how difficult it is for adults to get over upsetting happenings that transpire in their lives, even though they have sharpened the skills which enable them to see and think rationally, you can then comprehendhow sexual molestation of a child, whose mind is still evolving, can cause irremediable damage to his or her life.

Without any scintilla of hyperbole, child molestation is the same as child sexual abuse. In severe cases children are raped or thoroughly forced by an adult (or older child) to have sexual intercourse. They are then bribed or threatened into keeping quiet about their ordeal. Children are not meant to engage in sexual activity and whatever their background or social standing, no child will initiate a sexual encounter. Adults alone are responsible for this ill in our society.

Despite the fact that a child appears to comply with the act, it is the adult who is answerable and responsible for the act, by way of adulthood to say the very least. If media report is anything to go by in this context, every adult knows that sex with a child is against the law and yet new cases are seemingly brought to light every day in Lagos State.

To the developing mind of a child, any type of sexual encounter does not have the same appeal or twistedconsummation that it has for the adult initiator. Children will always end up being worse off physically and emotionally, once they have been sexually abused, unless they receive guidance through counselling. Over the preceding years following the abuse, the trauma will manifest itself in different ways as the ‘child survivor,’ who is now maturing, tries to deal with the reality of what transpired.

More often than not, some mothers with teenage daughters find them culpable for being involved with their (fathers or) step fathers, when sexual abuse is exposed or revealed between the two. They fail to blame the abuser who is obviously so carnally-minded that he regards a young girl as nothing more than sexual provender to be used at his disposal. Only an insecure and irresponsible mother would take the word of a wrongdoer over that of a child, or try to suppress the ‘story’ to the detriment of the child’s trustworthiness.

This is just one example of the kind of upsettingcircumstances that children have to endure and consequently bear like a cross into maturity. The consequence of which could bring about low self-esteem, resulting in further unfair treatment in relationships. Child sexual offences can take place anywhere: at home, in school, even at a sports or recreational club. Statistics show that more children are abused by people they know than by strangers such as depicted in Report made available by the Lagos Ministry of Youth and Social Development in 2021.

One of the most injurious form of abuse nevertheless, must be parental incest. Parents should always be the main loving, guiding force in their child’s life; they should be reliable, dependable and frank. It therefore must be shocking and baffling for children when they have to acknowledge either parent as a sexual predator. There is no doubt that some mothers are well aware of what is going on under their roofs and they do nothing to interpose, to defend or protect their child. They are just as much to blame as the man who is raping the child.

Statistically speaking, it would be recalled in this context that in September 2021 that the leadership of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) said it handled 10,007 cases of Domestic and Sexual Violence involving Men, Women and Children from May 2019 to August 2021.

The Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) at the time of making the disclosure at a Media Parley organized to give account of the performance of DSVRT in commemoration of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month at Alausa, Ikeja, noted against the backdrop of rising cases of Domestic and Sexual Violence, incessant child abuse that there was need to continuously prosecute perpetrators in the state.

Breaking down the varied forms of child abuses that occurred from May 2019 to August 2021 in the state, he said there were 177 rape, 255 attempt to commit rape/sexual assault, 246 sexual assault by penetration/threat, 271 defilement cases, 13 defilement by minor to minor, 148 sexual harassment/molestation cases were handled by the state through the Domestic Violence and Sexual Response Team (DSVRT)”.

In fact, child sexual abuse doesn’t always involve penetration. Any type of touching, fondling or exposing of private parts that is initiated by adults and involves children, is a criminal act that is punishable by law. Watching pornographic movies with children is against the law; making children do anything of a sexual nature to themselves or to someone else is against the law. The bottom line is, any sexual exploitation of a child for sexual gratification, is child sexual abuse and therefore, a crime.

In fact almost one year down the line when Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed the law establishing Sex Offenders’ Register in the state, child sexual abuse still prevails and pervades in the State despite the punitive nature of the law. It would be recalled that the legislation indicates that whoever molests a girl child would have his name put in the sex offender register.

“So, in future, if you want to employ such a person, you just type in the name and if you find such person’s name there, you just know that person was once a rapist. You dissociate yourself from him. It is a bill now; we are waiting for the governor to pass it to law. It is a worthy course; it is a job that must be done,” the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Poverty Alleviation and Job Creation, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mojisolaoluwa Alli-Macaulay, stated this in her keynote address during the launch of International Family Foundation in Lagos in the year that is contextually under reference.

Given the prevalence and pervasiveness of the evil that characterized child sexual abuse, it is expedient to urge the Lagos State Government to once again intensify efforts toward the alleviation of the evil act across the state.

Sandra Ijeoma Okoye (Author)

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