After going through a series of stories about Gender Based Violence, nothing strikes my conscience more than the stinking realisation that most African families overlook Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. How many times have you read or heard of families concealing rape by a relative(s)? Sometimes, women bear the brunt of keeping the family unit together, even if it means having to undergo sleepless nights and keeping the “mystery” from the public eye. Most women that protect child perpetrators do it so as to…
- Protect the marriage union
Yes, marriage is seemingly an achievement in many homes and for African families, the obsession is just too real, which is leaving most women vulnerable to the act. I once read an article in which a woman’s 16 year daughter was impregnated by her 30 year old niece, and in order to keep the family unit “intact”, she had to conceal this act. The child had to live with the reality that her child is a product of rape, teenage pregnancy and incest, up until she mastered the courage to speak out later on in life. Why? Simply because mum wanted to save her marriage and look like “a good sister.” One question that comes to my mind is: Are women so desperate to stay married up to an extent of brushing under the carpet a hideous deed perpetrated against a child by the father/brother/uncle/aunt/a family friend? Until women realise that marriage isn’t a prison sentence or an open field where any Tom, Dick and Harry can take advantage of innocent children, rape by relatives will certainly continue.
- To avoid public humiliation
Nothing breaks my heart more than coming to the realisation that most victims of rape live to endure the vivid memories of sexual abuse and exploitation simply because, “Mummy and daddy didn’t want to undergo public disgrace and shaming.” Now wait a minute… is child safety and protection something that two grown adults need to give a second thought about? If a family member or close friend abuses your child, run straight to the Police or Courts and make your voice heard. The scar rape leaves is something an individual is forced to carry for their whole life. No amount of social dignity and good societal standing surpasses a victim’s justice. If you were concealing an abuse which is currently undergoing in your family just because of pat talk or in the name of, “People know me”, do yourself a favour… Simply let go of your personal pride, and claim justice for your child.
- What will people say?
Many people have forsaken their justice and opportunities to liberal lives due to this very question… Injustice and unfairness in life stems from an internal conflict of seeking to please people at your own expense. Think of it all this way: the very people who will say something negative when you gather the courage to speak out against a child’s rape are the same people who were concealing it from you. Under no circumstance should you let external forces determine your decision-making abilities. Rape is rape, be it against a minor or an adult. So, the moment your mind starts playing hide-and-seek with you, just do the right thing: follow your heart and report that perpetrator! Rape is a crime, and nobody should ever think twice when it comes to reporting a child offender.