Chairman of Rivers State Council of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Lilian Okonkwo-Ogabu has lamented increasing rate of sexual violence against children in Nigeria. She disclosed that about 80 per cent of sexual abuse victims in the country are children.
Mrs Ogabu, who spoke to journalists in Port Harcourt recently on the rate of sexual violence against, children, among other contemporary issues, disclosed that children were more vulnerable to the perpetrators of rape.
According to her, sexual abuse of children had become rampant in the country because innocence and trusting nature of children pare way and opportunity for perpetrators to strike.
As she puts it, “It also occur because of the carelessness of parents and guardians. The way and manner the issue has been trivialized in the past has also emboldened perpetrators to keep going lower in age from adults to children.
She said that there was no justifiable reason for rape, adding that the reasons usually given were unacceptable.
“What perpetrators do is that they make porous attempts to justify their criminal actions such as, ‘I was drunk’, ‘she did not dress codedly’, it is the handiwork of devil’, among others.
Ogabu debunked assertions that the victims do not report the incidents. “That is fallacy of the highest order”. “She said, stating that many of the perpetrators have been arrested and genuinely prosecuted.
The NAWOJ boss however, said that the key issue is when victims and their families report, the services they receive from the authorities concerned, fall bellow expectation. She admonished security and other government agencies to intensify necessary actions against such horrible matter instead of sweeping it under the carpet.
The gender specialist stressed the need for victims and their families to get the required supports after formal reports. “the relevant agencies should be action-packed; the police should not commit secondary victimisation by further blaming the victims and ridiculing the case in point”.
She, therefore noted that they should act promptly by first arresting and then investigating the alleged crime, cautioning victims to always receive counseling for their traumatic experience and urgent medical attention.
On sexual abuse and family burden, Mrs Ogabu said that sexual abuse is not only experienced by the victims but also by their families, she said, “the impact is physical, sexual and psychological. The psychological trauma especially is huge”, Ogabu said.
She stated that physical and mental health consequences were myriad as they included; risks of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) like HIV/AIDS, tear of the vagina, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, depression and suicidal tendencies.
Mrs Lilian Okonkwo-Ogabu added that rape cases be reported primarily to the police-within minutes of its occurance-before going to the hospital for counseling and treatment.
Bethel Toby, Okoh Ekene & Abigail Stowe