Stigma is the roof under which most parents build shelter in our society when it comes to cases as delicate as child molestation and defilement. The steady increase in the rate of child defilement is alarming as it is fast becoming a kind of tradition for some citizens who accept it as a norm in parts of the country. In some of these cases, children as young as nine months to four years are victims of these indecent and inhuman acts by adults who sometimes are related to them and should normally be their guardian.
With some of the very few cases reported to the Police being handled with kids gloves on the part of the law enforcement agents who on most times, release the perpetrators of this crime back into the society with justice truncated, one begins to wonder if the future of the Nigerian child is not jeopardized and endangered when basic rights as essential as fundamental as protection and care are hard to come by.
This is the story of a four- year- old girl; defiled, deflowered and infected by an alleged 45-year-old man and supposed uncle. At the age of two this child could recite her country’s National Anthem and express herself, she was bright and without a care in the world. Her family was her pride and her parents, aunties and uncles were her heroes.
But she may never understand why one of her heroes will choose to put her through the path of brutality, wickedness and an unholy experience sexually when she is just too young to be sexually exploited.
She is a victim of child defilement; severally raped by her 45 year Uncle who did it over and over and over again. Now she is infected with about four different sexually transmitted diseases and may soon join the millions of cases of Vesico-Vaginal-Fistula (VVF) victims left rejected across the country for a fault that is not theirs. Doctors cannot tell if she has contracted the dreaded HIV/AIDS which requires a window period to really show up in tests conducted. She was somebody’s daughter; a child that looked up to the society for guidance and now, she has become a victim to the many ills and challenges she was supposed to face later in life as an adult.
She lived with her grandparents, an auntie and uncles in Maraba, a suburb between Abuja and Nassarawa State and an area where child defilement is fast becoming a daily occurrence with no justice ever recorded. She came from a broken home as her parents were separated; her father is based in Port-Harcourt while the mother is working and living in Abuja.
Due to the many challenges facing single parents, her mother designed a visitation schedule where she would be with her child every weekend with her four -year-old daughter at the paternal family house. On one of her regular visits, her daughter in her limited, shy and withdrawn attitude typical of an innocent child told her mother how her uncle always ‘touches’ her.
A little inquiry into how ‘Uncle’ touches her revealed more than she could bear. she first of all did what any sane thinking person should do; she reported the matter to her ex-father-in-law and daughter’s grandfather under who’s roof the abominable act was perpetuated.
If the revelation from her daughter dazzled her, the response she got from an elder shocked the living day lights out of her.
“Don’t worry, things are under control and the issue has been taken care of,” the grandfather said. The mother gave in to second thoughts and decided not to press the issue any further.
Alarmed and devastated and with little money in her pocket, she decided to take the girl to the hospital for an examination and almost fainted when the doctor, after examining the little child, gave her a bombshell; “Madam, I’m afraid to tell you that your four-year-old baby is no longer a virgin.”
She was experiencing a situation that was even very hard to imagine; when she was shown the vagina of her little child, she needed no telling to understand what the doctor’s report was showing; “When the doctor showed her to me, she was open...she was open. My precious daughter has been used and who knows how long this has been going on,” she said. t became clear to this mother of a sullied girl that she was alone in her battle to bring her child’s molester to pay for what he did to her daughter.
Her confrontation with her ex-husband’s family took a turn for the worse and she was seen as a troublemaker who wanted to bring shame to the family by involving the police and the law. The family sadly, owns an educational facility with even the alleged perpetuator of the sinful act owning and operating a Nursery and Primary School.
This is sadly one out of many childhood molestation cases that occur within Maraba and other suburbs around. While investigating this story, various cases of child molestation were reported to the police and redirected on domestic grounds. Even the Nigeria Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ojukwu attested to the fact that many of the families that reports this kind of case always want to label it a family affair and always settle out of the corridor’s of justice and the Nigeria Police will be so blinded to release a dangerous pedophiles back to the society where, maybe, they continue with their nefarious abuses on children and minors.
Another problem that helps the increment recorded in some of these defilement cases is the connivance of elements of the Police who get a report of these crimes and succumb to the bribery from, most times, families of either the girl or the perpetrator. In one of such cases, a 65-year-old man was arrested on the grounds of molesting a nine-year-old girl who was brought to the station, bleeding. The nine-year-old girl was asked to write a statement and put her thumbprint on it, which she did. She was then taken to the hospital for treatment. By evening, the child’s father was recalled to the station by the supposed investigating police officer and told to bring his daughter to make another statement. The father explained that his daughter was traumatized and could not make it to the station to write another statement. For this, the 65-year-old was released from custody on the grounds that there was no indicting statement against him. Even at the time of this investigation, there are fears that the case file involving this four-year old girl has been tampered with and indicting documents like the doctor’s report removed so that when the perpetrator is arraigned in the court, there would not be any evidence to keep in custody and go further with the case. The family has boasted that they have the funds and everything is under control.
“We will solve it our own way; not the police way or in court,” the brother to the perpetrator said.
Most times, only very few cases make it to the court and the number of convictions gotten is criminally poor when compared to the daily occurrence of this dastardly act across the country as in the case of a 32-year-old man who molested a nine-year-old girl. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. Maybe the failure of law and order to such cases gives the needed boost to the upsurge of such pathetic crimes.
Further investigation at the Nyanya General Hospital revealed that the hospital actually was no stranger to cases such as these and certain staff of the hospital who spoke off-camera said there were cases of molestation of children aged as low as nine months. Swept under the rug of “domestic and private issue”, these cases are abandoned along the way and the only victims left to suffer are the children who then grow into troubled and unstable adults. Crime is expected as no society is perfect, but the failure of law and order can be more damaging than crime itself.
The story is far from over and the culture of silence if allowed to continue will result in far reaching and disastrous results whose effects generations to come will be overwhelmed by. A documentary detailing the story of the four-year-old molested by her uncle is underway and will be released after the court proceedings of the case are concluded. This is a call to everyone to stand for what is healthy and right. We are our children and our children are we. The time to act is now.
This is the video http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1395380896579&ref=mf