By Kate Henshaw
“Children are a gift from God and the fruit of the womb, His reward” so the Holy Book says. Having attended a wedding last week Saturday, the priest preached that the purpose of marriage was for companionship between a man and woman and procreation.
Many women and even men scour all sorts of places in search of this golden fleece; special diets are adhered to, painful medical procedures are borne and countless other experiences are recounted by those who have gone through this process. There are some women whose “ovens are always filled with buns “whether they planned for them or not. These don’t even break a sweat when it comes to being put in the family way.
Even before a child is born, the parents,or parent makes plans for the future, saves for the needs of the offspring(s) who will become a part of their lives till the day they depart the earth. It is a thing of pride for the expectant parents when they are seen as “complete” by society.
I still remember the joy I felt when I gave birth to my daughter. Hearing her first cries brought tears to my eyes and even now when I look at her pictures back when she was a toddler, I still shed a tear,and I thank God each day for this immeasurable gift. This is a gift which I would cherish and protect.
I suppose the same does not ring true for everyone as it boggles the mind why some parents would blame a young child or teenager for an irreprehensible act like rape? How? Or why a male relative will see the need to stick his ‘member’ into a two-year old baby girl? Why? Why?
Rape and child abuse have been with us for years but these days they are committed with reckless abandon,and even with the inclusion of parents covering up the act so that society would not “look down” on them. I feel totally helpless whenever I read such stories. My involvement with Project Alert on Violence against Women and Children, an NGO committed to fighting for those who have been violated(by those who are supposed to protect them) beyond words, has indeed, been an eye opener.
Real life stories that leave your mind reeling with all sorts of questions…as to how an adult who knows the difference between right and wrong could do this evil and still roam around freely,even some in a position of authority. How do we expect these children to function properly, emotionally and psychologically? The atrocities are too numerous to count and too heinous to ignore,and we are fast heading towards a precipice if we do not proffer lasting solutions to these atrocities.
The Nigerian child is at great risk of being dehumanised and molested daily;whether hawking wares on the street, in an orphanage, at home or even in school. It is indeed, sad to note that despite the passage of the Child Rights Act in 2003 by the Federal Government, nothing much has changed. Our judiciary does not help the situation when in court a young girl is asked to show where she was molested, in full view of all present? How does that make anyone else come forward? Clearly we do not have well equipped forensic laboratories available to collect, preserve and even test evidence collected if at all they are. I suppose the rape of a minor does not weigh heavily on the scale since there is no money to be shared.Gone are the days when neighbours cared for children growing up around them.
Nowadays everyone seems to have self-centred disposition,but we forget that no man is an island. Sooner or later, it will come knocking on your door step should it not be nipped in the bud. No matter your status, you cannot be everywhere that your child is. We need to love and care for our children, instil in them good morals and encourage them to confide in us about anything without fear of reprisal.
Every Nigerian child deserves the right to life,food, good health, shelter and education.They deserve the right to be protected in and out of their homes. Our laws need to be tougher and enforced without exception against this evil acts on our children.
Prosecution should not only be for the perpetrators but also of parents unwilling to co-operate and give evidence for aiding and abetting. We need to have zero tolerance for rape, child abuse and domestic violence for it is a cause worth fighting for.