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Child molestation is often misunderstood

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By Nicole

Nigeria is a nation whereby child abuse is higher than the global average.

The problem of violence towards children is widespread. According to the 2020 Global Status Report, nearly one billion children worldwide experience some kind of violence every year, including neglect, physical and Sexual Abuse. Children are impacted differently by all types of violence, but sexual assault in particular represents pain that lasts for a very long time. It has been associated to harmful health effects such problems with reproduction, mental dysfunction, a weakened immune system, and an increased risk of STDs. Despite the negative effects on their physical health, it also leaves victims with a variety of psychological issues such as trauma, despair, and anxiety.

One in five women and one in 13 males, according to the World Health Organization, reported having experienced sexual abuse as a kid. In addition to initiatives for victim care, rehabilitation, and reintegration, the Nigerian government has policies intended to address the many types of violence against children. The Child’s Rights Act of 2003 contains Legislation pertaining to child protection. On the other hand, according to a UNICEF report based on data from 2014, one in four Nigerian girls and one in ten Nigerian boys had experienced sexual abuse. In this study, female adolescent survivors of childhood sexual abuse who attempted to tell adults about their experiences were examined. We discovered that individuals were occasionally silenced and even given the blame for what had occurred to them.

To carry out this study interviews were conducted with some victims.

Interviews were conducted with 11 female teenagers who had at least one instance of sexual abuse or molestation. During a campaign to raise awareness of child sexual abuse, trained research assistants randomly chose participants for a bigger study, and they were then asked if they would be open to taking part. The nature and goals of the study were explained to those who agreed. They received guarantees of secrecy and were informed that participants might leave the study at any time without facing any repercussions. Both the participants and the school administration gave their informed consent to participate in the study.  The researchers made the choice to concentrate on female teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 who could converse in English and who had at least one history of sexual abuse or molestation. The study covered a variety of forms of abuse, including kissing, fondling, and vaginal sex.

This current study comprised the responses of 11 survivors. The interviewees were Secondary School students from various secondary schools in Benue State, central Nigeria, who were taking part in a program to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. Parents gave their permission for the study to be conducted. The study’s nature and aim were explained to the students, and those who consented to participate underwent interviews that lasted between six and thirteen minutes per subject. The participants talked about issues related to talking about their experiences with sexual assault. The interviews’ audio recordings were transcribed and examined.

Some of the victims had to withdraw from school due to the shame they felt.

They sought to comprehend what occurs in the victim’s primary surroundings and how front-line health and social professionals, parents, and other individuals might provide help to victims. It was discovered that decisions not to report abuse were made with the help of parents, teachers, siblings, and other family members. Eight of the victims came to the conclusion that it was preferable to remain silent as a result of the responses some of them experienced when they spoke up. Each participant acknowledged that they had pleaded with the perpetrators to stop, but to no avail. Many had sobbed. One respondent claimed that she yelled inaudibly. The interviewees claimed that following the abuse occurrences, they started looking for additional victims and sympathizers. They said that this process resulted in trauma, followed by sentiments of stigma.

Interviewees claimed they were held accountable for the incidents as well. Parents called them names, verbally abused them, and in some cases ignored them. Some were forced to withdraw and keep to themselves due to the shame they already felt. These results are consistent with earlier research. They also go further to demonstrate that, during times of abuse, parents and other important figures do not pay attention to children’s concerns. The children are not understood by adults even when they hear them; instead, they are held accountable.

Children should be able to voice out if anything happens to them.

Although children are the main victims, families and the community at large will also suffer from the physical and emotional health repercussions of abuse. To solve this issue, families, communities, and governments should work together. Governments must put into effect laws that make child sexual abuse illegal. The voices of abused children must be heard and understood by people who are in the primary abuse context (such as parents, guardians, teachers, and religious leaders). To respond to violence against children, listen therapeutically, and provide specialized solutions, families and all front line health, Education, and welfare professionals must receive training. Encouragement to speak up, safe venues for doing so, and assurance of protection should all be provided for kids. Children are also more likely to speak up right away if they encounter, witness, or hear instances of abuse.


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