By Jemi Ekunkunbor
What do you do when a trusted relative consistently rapes you and warns you not to tell anyone? What happens if you are raped by armed robbers and get pregnant? Would it be okay to abort the unborn child? Can boys also be sexually abused?

What if you have an adopted parent who provides for you but sexually abuses you? These were innocent but very pertinent questions presented to Queeneth Orok, winner 2008/2009 Carnival Calabar Pageant when she went on a ‘Casual Sexual Abstinence Advocacy tour’ to secondary schools in Calabar. The objective of this tour was to sensitise teenagers to the dangers of premarital sex.

The Carnival Queen Pageant is an initiative of Her Excellency, Mrs Obioma Liyel_Imoke. The winner of the pageant becomes a spokesperson for another initiative of hers, Mothers against Child Abandonment (MACA), which is aimed at reducing the rate of abandoned babies in the State.

Through the MACA initiative, babies are taken off the streets and housed in a safe haven called The Refuge. Also, at another facility, some young girls who have the misfortune of being saddled with unwanted pregnancies, who more often than not are victims of society, are also catered for. They are taught life skills and are gradually eased back into society.  The Carnival Calabar Pageant holds in Calabar every third week of December and proceeds from ticket sales are donated to The Refuge.  The current Carnival Queen recently visited three secondary schools in Calabar, educating the students on the perils of child abuse, teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF), which are repercussions of premarital sex.

These visits will serve as a prelude to a state wide tour where she will carry the same messages to various schools in the 18 Local Government Areas across the State. “I found the tours very interesting,” says Orok, “Though my objective was to get the message of Her Excellency across to students, I did learn a lot from them.

When I was that age, I’m not sure that I would have had the courage to ask the kind of questions they asked.”  The queen says that child abuse is rife and questions asked by most of the students suggested that they are either victims or knew people who are victims of child abuse.

Also present at the schools’ visit was MACA’s Director, Mary Amoji Ogar, who encouraged the students to use the MACA hotline to report any cases of child abuse.

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