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Defilement: When protectors become predators

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Defilement: When protectors become predators

‘When protectors become predators’

 

John Chikezie writes that unless all hands are on desk, judicial punishments and sactions may not suffice in curbing criminals who prey on minors

 

He’s just seven-year-old, but he has seen a lot even for someone of his age. He looked resolute and stared unflinching at the correspondent. As he tries to speak, his lip quivers, he bites it, and then said calmly: “My daddy would put my sister on the ground and sleep with her from here (points to his private part).

 

It was not once or twice but five times. He beats me and my younger brother every time because we didn’t allow him to do us.” He is the eldest of three children; two boys and a girl, left in their care of their father by after their mother walked out.

 

 

Rather than nurture and protect them, as most fathers are expected to do, their father Olusegun Adefemi, 32, was busy, sexually helping himself to his three-year-old daughter, Kemi Adefemi turned his little girl to a sex object and serially violated her for several months. Every night, Kemi would groan in pains as her father pins her to the floor; covers her mouth with his large palms, and defiled her right in the presence of her two older siblings.

 

Adefemi forcefully continued to penetrate her vagina, inflicting injuries, which later started oozing putrid fluid, attracting attention of neighbours at their residence at Ijede, in the Ikorodu area of Lagos. An official of the Neighbourhood watch Corps, Adekoya Sesan, attached to the Ijede Local Council Development Area, Ikorodu alerted the vigilante group on the child’s defilement by her father.

Adefemi was picked and handed over to the police. Then the sad tale unfolded; Kemi and her two siblings were taken into custody by their father after he separated from their mother sometimes in 2017 over allegations of domestic violence.

Our correspondent learnt that Kemi’s two older brothers were not spared in the sexual violation, as their father caned them mercilessly each time they resisted him from having sex with them through their anus. Adefemi, a bricklayer, would flog the seven and five year old boys with his belt or smack them with wooden planks for refusing to allow him penetrate their anus, thereby inflicting injuries all over their bodies. Speaking with our correspondent on February 2, 2018, the sevenyear- old boy recounted: “My father regularly had sexual intercourse with my younger sister.”

 

Although the suspect denied the allegation, his son insisted that he violated his younger sister five times. Like a plague, the defilement of children has become prevalent on daily print and online media in Nigeria; a situation where the girlchild’s supposed protector has now becomes the predator. The family is the single most important influence in a child’s life; where their first moment of life wholly depends on parents to protect and provide for their needs.

 

Imagine a three-year-old girl screaming from the depths of her soul while bleeding from her vagina as she is being defiled by her own biological father. Can you picture the confusion on the face of a two year old pupil as she is being lured into the toilet, during school hours, by her male teacher just to be sexually abused?

 

 

Picture the agony of a mother who returns home from work to find out that the baby she painstakingly carried for nine months has been sexually abused by an unemployed neighbour. The horrifying and incredible stories continue.

 

Mr Agu Echezona Harrison 37, has yelled, “ It’s a family affair,” while being whisked away into a prison van after being remanded by an Ikeja High Court, Lagos in November 1, 2017 for allegedly defiling his six-year-old daughter. Harrison threatened to sue journalists if they attempted to publish that he serially abused his daughter as alleged by his wife, Akukwe Priscilla.

 

He thundered: “I will sue you if you dare write anything about me, it’s a family affair.” Priscilla said that she was fed up with the abuse which she said had lingered for over two years (since 2013 till 2015).

 

According to her, Harrison, aside from habitually inserting his fingers into their daughter’s vagina, equally raped her younger sister during a short holiday in their home, at Isheri Osun State.

 

She said, “My daughter told me that her daddy has been inserting his hand into her ‘bum bum.’” The daughter told her this after she observed an offensive odour oozing out of the girl’s private part with frequent whitish discharge.

 

She questioned her and the girl spilled the bean. Priscilla further recalled: “I confronted him, but he denied it. I angrily went to his mother to report the matter. Ironically, my mother-in-law told him to stop me from escalating the issue.

 

After that, he raped my younger sister and also tried to deny it, not knowing I had taken my sister for a test at the hospital to check the drop of sperm found inside her.

 

Since it was barely 24 hours the rape happened, I forced him to go for a test also and he did. The hospital confirmed it matched the one found on my sister. I had to talk to him alone. I even had to show him our little girls stained pant so he could see the harm he was doing, but he paid no attention.

 

I had to leave the house with my kids. He later came fighting for custody, especially for my little girl.” A 15-year-old girl, who had been sexually and physically abused by her father said: “My daddy slept with me, got me pregnant and my mummy helped me to remove it at a hospital in Oshodi.” It was discovered that her father, Raymond Ikechukwu Anyanwu 41, had been violating her since she was in primary five.

 

At any slight resistance, she would receive a thorough beating from him. Even when her mother intervened, she would also receive a dose of the physical assault.

 

Anyanwu, a driver, who is currently facing trial before a Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, Lagos State, was later remanded in prison custody in February 15, 2018.

 

The girl further said: “I was in primary five when my daddy began to sleep with me, but I didn’t like it. He would remove his manhood and put it in my private part. He was always using cane to beat me so that I would sleep with him. Sometimes he would squeeze my neck while threatening to kill me.

 

On one occasion, he came to beat me and my mum pleaded with him not to, but instead he beat my mum and I.” Homes, schools and churches which serve as the basic imprints of inculcating societal values and moral consciousness to the upbringing of little girls are no longer safe since people can barely distinguish between protectors and paedophiles, guardians and molesters.

 

Children, especially the girlchild, are easy victims of sexual violence because of their vulnerability in terms of size, stature, and mental capability. According to the National Child Welfare Policy of 1989, a child is defined as anybody aged 12 years or below. Both the Sexual Offences Act and Sections 277 of the Child Rights Act, 2003 also defines a child or minor as a person who has not attained the age of 18. However, child defilement is a domestic and gender based violence, but has no universally accepted definition. The World Health Organization (WHO), Report of the Consultation on Child Abuse and Prevention, 1999, defines child defilement as the involvement of a child in any sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend; is unable to give informed consent to; for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent; or that violate the laws or social taboos of society.

 

 

The 2017 annual report of the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), defines it as a behaviour that exposes a child below 18 years of age to sexual content or which the child is used to obtain sexual stimulation and a proof of sexual intercourse indicating penetration is observed. Under the Nigerian law, it is immaterial whether the act was done with or without the consent of the child. Section 31(1) of the Child rights Act, 2003 states that no person is permitted to have sexual intercourse with a child and the punishment is life imprisonment.

 

 

The Act also voids any defence of ignorance regarding to the child’s age or an alibi that the child gave consent for the sexual intercourse. Ironically, sanctuaries provided for the safeties of our little female children have become hellholes; a den of sexual abusers and molesters whose randy appetites fall short of explanation.

 

 

Recall the story of a two-year-old pupil at Chrisland School, Victoria Garden City (VGC), who was allegedly defiled by a school supervisor and was asked by a clinical psychologist, Miss Olive Ogedengbe to draw the genitals of the molester. Imagine what could happen to the psyche of that child when she begins memorizing obscene words, including drawing a gigantic manhood of a classroom teacher, instead of learning the basic arithmetic and alphabets in school

 

 

The little girl, as seen in a recorded video played at an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, drew the likeliness of the manhood of her defiler, whom she identified as “Adegboyega Adenekan (46). In the video, the child was given a sheet of paper and asked to draw the private part of Adenekan, which she did, as well as another image, later shown as a human finger. After making the drawings, the child said: “That is the hand he used to put in my wee wee.” Ogedengbe thereafter asked, “Where is Mr Adenekan’s wee wee?” In response, the child pointed at her private area. The psychologist further asked: “Does he put his wee wee in your wee wee?” And the child replied “yes.”

 

 

Unbelievably, the child, imitating the voice of the supervisor, was heard saying in the video recording: “Your bum bum is delicious; your bum bum is sweet. I will eat your bum bum.”

 

 

The child thereafter, using a teddy bear as a puppet, also showed how the supervisor allegedly abused another pupil in her class.

 

 

This is a great mental scar and one out of a thousand peculiar cases of children, who are constantly sodomized by randy teachers in Nigeria and are enduring in silence. Shockingly, one of the goriest reports of child defilement is the story of a 10-year-old pupil, who was not only defiled by a school teacher but was also infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the process. The pupil was serially abused by a 32-year-old teacher, David Eyo at the premises of Promise Land Ministry School at No. 17, Aminu Jinadu St., Eric Moore, Surulere.

 

 

According to the police prosecutor, Benson Emuerhi, the accused had been sexually violating the victim, who was preparing for a Common Entrance Examination, since September 2017 when she was in primary five. In a bid to silence his deed, Eyo would allegedly threaten to flog the child while repeatedly telling her that she would die if she dared tell anyone what he used to do to her.

 

 

The matter was, however, reported to the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Response Team (DSVRT) and the accused was subsequently arrested. Eyo was further arraigned and remanded in prison custody by an Ikeja Chief Magistrate Court on February 20, pending advice from the State Director of Public prosecutions (DPP).

 

 

This also brings to the front burner the dysfunctional ties children are subjected to while learning each day in school. Like schools, children are also being defiled in churches (places of worship) by so called ‘pastors’ who desecrate the altar of God in the disguise of offering spiritual help or deliverance to these underage girls.

 

 

Recently, in January 31, a middle aged pastor popularly known as Brother Solomon was arrested by police officers in Anambra State for allegedly defiling a seven-yearold girl in Nodu village, Okpuno, Awka South Local Government Area. It was learnt that the self-acclaimed pastor, who operates a prayer ministry in the area, defiled the little girl after her mother brought her for prayers.

 

 

The founder and general overseer of Day Spring Family Chapel, Egbeda area, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, Pastor Isaiah Akinojo, was remanded in prison for allegedly defiling a seven-year-old girl, inside the church premises. The police Prosecutor, Inspector Sikiru Ibrahim, said the victim usually return to the church every day after school before their father would take them home in the evening.

 

 

“So on that fateful day, around 7 p.m., Akinojo sent the girl’s junior brother on an errand to buy something for him, and he took advantage of the little girl,” said the prosecutor.

 

 

Even lawyers and politicians, who are meant to defend the rights of children and help them seek justice against molesters, are also culpable of the offence.

 

 

Earlier this year, a Chief Magistrates Court, Port Harcourt remanded a lawyer, Kingsley Philips 46, in prison for allegedly defiling a 12-year-old girl.

 

While a popular politician, Franklin Adeyanju 58, who resides at 24, Tijani Street, Dopemu was remanded in Kirikiri Prisons by an Ikeja Chief Magistrates Court for allegedly defiling his neighbour’s five-year-old daughter.

 

 

The Team Co-ordinator, Lagos State Domestic & Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Mrs Titilayo Vivour-Adeniyi said that over 800 cases of defilement, rape and other sexual offences have been filed both at the Lagos High Courts and the newly commissioned Sexual Offences Court, Ikeja from the month of January to February, 2018.

 

 

Vivour-Adeniyi said that what people now call an increased rate of sexual abuses is simply an effect of an increased reportage (in terms of formal reporting).

 

 

According to her, prior to recent occurrences, people usually report to traditional rulers, religious and community leaders but are now taking advantage of formal institutions; like the police, other law enforcement agencies, medical personnel, NGOs and government.

 

 

She added: “There are different factors that are responsible for sexual violence (especially defilement). We conducted a research to ascertain the motive or reason people commit these offences and we partnered with the Nigerian prisons.

 

 

We were privileged to engage convicts in sexual related crimes and thereafter discovered that 85.5% of the convicts were abused before age six.

 

“The convicts told us as that they were abused during their childhood, which revealed the abuseabuser trend; a situation where they were abuse and now turned abusers. And because they didn’t receive the necessary psychosocial support, they were unable to heal from that traumatic experience and so had no other recourse than to perpetrate these acts.

 

 

“Other factors we observed include; the issue of low self-esteem, poverty, low level of education, traumatic expression and history of sexual abuse. These were the variables obtained across board when we engaged over a 140 male convicts.

 

 

“The effect of sexual violence on a person either male or female can last for a life. It is a traumatic experience and separate individuals react differently to it.

 

 

While some suffer what is called post traumatic disorder, others become suicidal or even withdrawn. Hence, if it’s for some women or female survivors, they begin to go after men for sex. There are different responses since nobody is the same. “It is important to note that there is no specific reason for sexual violence.

 

 

This is because when you say there’s a reason, then it is simply an excuse.

 

 

All acts of sexual violence are premeditated: it’s not something people just do, especially when it involves children. For children, there is a process called grooming.

 

 

Children can be groomed over a certain period of time (within 1/6months or even a year). “To start with, children are already vulnerable. So perpetrators don’t just go bouncing on children, no, they win their trust. These per-petrators prey on certain children, especially those that are being neglected; neglected in the sense that they are not receiving attention, care and love from their family members. The issue of over familiarity with neighbours or teachers set in. It then becomes constant through sending the child on petty errands and dashing out money as an incentive. “These are real life situations that lead to defilement of children. The point is, when a child has being taught to understand the difference between good and bad touch (especially things like ‘you cannot touch me inappropriately or I would shout’), prior to this grooming process, then the sexual violence would stop or not happen at all. There might be an attempt but it certainly won’t.” She disclosed that in 2018, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) filed over 500 cases of sexual abuses before the Lagos High Courts while during the commissioning of the Sexual offences Court, the Lagos Chief Judge said that over 300 cases of defilement had been filed before the new court. Vivour-Adeniyi said: “More so as parents or family care givers, children should be able to talk to us. Irrespective of our busy schedules, your children should be able to talk to you at least 10 minutes daily.” Speaking on the issue of children and sex education, Vivour- Adeniyi said that it is right to teach children about sex education as soon as they could understand the basics, especially at age two. She noted: “There are basic things we can do like telling them not to allow anyone touch their private parts: (penis and bum bum) for the boys and (vagina, bum bum and breast) for the girls. We also have to be creative about this and not bombard them with it. Most importantly, the issue of ‘you would die if you tell threat’ by these perpetrators on children must not be taken lightly. Parents should be able to build that rapport with their children otherwise, if your children are not speaking to you they are speaking to someone else and it might be the perpetrators themselves. We must consciously imbue a sense of security on our children so they can trust us despite any situation. If your children are not talking to you, they are talking to someone else. Awareness and sensitization campaigns can be embarked on and also a life imprisonment sentence at least to send a message.” Also speaking on the issue, a Criminal Justice Phychologist and prominent Child Rights Activist, Dr. Princess Olufemi-Kayode said that the issue of sexual abuse is as old as humanity and can only be reduced to its barest minimum but cannot be totally eradicated. “To prevent the offence requires a collective effort of individuals at schools, religious places, the government, non-governmental organisations, civil society and the law enforcement agencies, including the children. “Even jailing offenders in order to curb the offence is not enough because those convicts still require a level of rehabilitation and correction. “At different ages, children should be empowered through Sex Appropriate Education. Sexual abuse affects the productivity of a nation because people who are abused cannot bring out their full potentials and might end up becoming abusers themselves. “This is no more an era of a father or an adult abusing a child but we are dealing with more sexual activities among children. The percentage is overwhelming. We must try not to also make a mess or mockery of someone who has been raped more than the molester. We must also try not to jump into conclusions or tarnish the images of people who have been accused of defilement until the court finds them guilty; because some of them might be innocent. “Nigeria must develop a culture that would help us prevent child molestation especially against the area of pornography,” she said. Justice for victims and punishment for convicts as contained within the provisions of Section 218 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, “any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 13 years is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without whipping”. Also, Section 137 of the Criminal Law, Cap C17, Vol 3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015 prescribes a mandatory life sentence for anyone found guilty of child defilement. Although the law prescribes life imprisonment on convicts, recent court judgements have shown lesser sentencing (Notwithstanding the fact that the sentencing of a convicts lies within the discretion of the court). However, on February 21, a self-confessed paedophile, Cobina Iziejen 58, was sentenced to 60 years imprisonment with hard labour by an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, after he pleaded guilty to defiling a 12-yearold pupil. The convict, a tailor, had earlier confessed that he sexually violated the child three times on separate occasions at his residence around Orimedu Town, Ibeju-Lekki. Iziejen claimed that he gave N1500 to the child after he violated her on the first day. While delivering judgement, Justice Sybil Nwaka said that incidences of rape and defilement have taken a new astronomical dimension in our society. Nwaka added: “The rate at which men in our society are prowling around, looking for young underage children to defile, is alarming. Children, especially the girl-child, are no longer safe in the custody of uncles, brothers and even fathers; this is sad. Our children, especially the girl child, should be encouraged to cry out and report any sexual assault against them, as this is the only way to correct this dire situation. We desire to make the city of Lagos and its environs safe for our children. These children are leaders of tomorrow and as such, not to be ruined in their formative years. Lagos has zero tolerance for sexual offences and for these reasons; I hereby sentence you to 60 years imprisonment with hard labour.” On that same day, Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of an Igbosere High Court, Lagos also sentenced a security guard, Daniel Peter 27, to 10 years imprisonment for defiling a neighbour’s five-year-old daughter. Peter was found guilty and convicted on a one count charge of child defilement contrary to Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011 preferred against him by the office of the DPP. According to Inspector Enobang Ekareine, attached to the Juvenile Welfare Section, Oke-Odo Police Station, while testifying before the court, the convict sneaked into the apartment of the victim at Pleasure Area, along Abeokuta Road Lagos, when her aunt was absent from home, and defiled her Justice Sedotan Ogunsanya of the same High Court Division on February 7 had earlier sentenced a businessman, Maduabuchi Onwuta 47, to 25 years imprisonment for defiling his friend’s 16-monthold baby girl. However, despite the prison sentences attached to the offence of child defilement, people are still being arraigned before the Sexual Offences Court, Lagos on daily basis. The underlining question is what impact has the convictions and jail terms really made in curbing this offence? Since prison sentence is only an aftermath of the offence, what other measures must be taken to curtail this menace in order to inhibit further violence against the girl-child? Section 2 of the Child Rights’ Act states that a child shall be given such protection and care as is necessary for his/her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or other individuals, institutions, services, agencies, organizations or bodies legally responsible for the child. The Mirabel Centre, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), Lagos was established in July 2013 to provide a distinctive quality of medical and psychosocial services to survivors of sexual assault and rape. Children who have either recently or in the past experienced rape or sexual assault benefit from the free and comprehensive medical, counselling and aftercare services provided by the Centre. The Mirabel Center located within the premises of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital is the first sexual assault referral Centre in Nigeria and the second in West Africa. According to its founder, Itoro Eze-Anaba, an anti-rape activist, who was recently awarded with the Commonwealth Point of Light Award by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Center provides succour to victims in terms of free pregnancy tests and other tests associated with rape, free medication and drugs, refund of clients’ transportation costs to the Centre in selected cases, change of clothing, etc. However, in 2014, the administration of Babatunde Fashola, the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, established a Sex Offenders’ Register, also known as, Mandatory Reporting Policy, where cases of domestic violence, all forms of sexual abuse, and violators were to be reported and documented. According to the past Governor, the basic purpose of the mandatory reporter policy is to reduce repeated cases by providing names and personal details of convicted sex offenders in the state to a central database. The database has been made accessible to all individuals and organisations that need such information. For example, schools or companies that want to recruit employees can access the register as a form of background check.

 

 

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