By Moses Rose
Whenever you see a minor, especially a girl-child not neatly or moderately dressed, carrying a baby or the baby’s bag and walking alongside a well dressed woman and her equally well dressed children, mostly in a Church or other events, take a very good, deep look at the woman and her family.
It is most likely the not-so-well dressed girl is the house-girl. And in most cases, they are from the southeastern or South-South part of the country.
If you prod further, you may also realize that most of the chores the very young maid is left to do, cannot be done by the older children in that house. Or they are simply not allowed to do them.
And you wonder if there’s any humanity in some mothers, and even fathers under whose roofs the wicked act is perpetrated against these minors from less privileged homes. But then it is written in the Holy Book that the heart of man is desperately wicked is recalled.
That explains why you would see a woman who took her children out to eat, having the heart to leave out her maid, who may have carried her youngest child to the venue, in the eating!
If such a woman could not even pretend in public to feed the house help, you can then imagine how she treats the house girl within the confines of her home.
Strange world. Strange people. And I am still battling to understand why a young, educated couple, this time from one of the southwest states, would bring one of such young girls to Lagos, only to throw her out, with no transport fare, when they feel they no longer need her services!
Though I have no information on how they got the house girl in question in the first place, she had been with them since around the age of 13 and did much of the house work while the couple was having their two kids.
As the kids were growing, the house girl’s responsibilities increased as she combined her other house work with that of taking care of the children. Soon as their teenage relations also came to stay with them and by which time the children were a bit grown up and walking around by themselves, the family threw the poor girl out.
Most times I still wonder if that girl eventually found her way back to her village, considering she was just a minor when she came to ‘serve the family’ and was just about 16 when she was thrown out. I had also wondered why this family did not have the goodness of heart to personally, or even arrange for someone to take that girl back to her people, if they no longer needed her around. That would have been the natural thing to do.
But no, someone must be wicked. Which is why this is the kind of heart breaking stories on how some families treat these children from less privileged homes that come to serve them, abound.
In some cases, the minors are in addition, sexually abused right there in those homes.
The case of late 13-year-old girl, Elizabeth Ochanya, a victim of serial rape by one Andrew Ogbuja, and his son, Victor, is still fresh in our memory.
Incidentally, Ogbuja, a senior lecturer at the Department of Catering and Hotel Management, Benue State Polytechnic, is husband to the late Ochanya’s aunt. Ochanya had come to live with them with the promise of better education.
Sadly, this was not to be as she died recently from Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) disease she allegedly suffered from the sexual assaults by both father and son, an abuse that started when Ochanya was just eight years.
Although Ogbuja, has since been arraigned before a Makurdi Upper Area Court, and remanded at the Makurdi Federal Prisons while his son, said to be a final year undergraduate, is on the run, there are obviously many Ochanya’s out there.
Elsewhere, another 13-year-old rape victim is currently suffering from the trauma she experienced after she was allegedly raped by a gang of four boys. The victim was reportedly raped while unconscious at an uncompleted building in the Baale area of Ajuwon, Ogun State.
As efforts are said to be made to get the badly wounded victim healed medically, psychologically and emotionally, those that raped her are said to be walking the streets freely with police allegedly vowing to have nothing to do with the suspects on the grounds that they were notorious and that one of them had just returned from prison.
But such unspeakable evil against minors must attract the necessary punishment it deserves, which left to me, should include castration.
Nonetheless, it is for such abuses that the Child Rights Act was enacted to ensure that every girl-child is protected. Unfortunately, only about 24 out of the 36 states of the federation have domesticated it.
With incidents of rape, among other child abuses in Nigeria now reaching an epidemic level, the country’s criminal justice system must live up to expectation against such debauchery and aberrant behavior.