Paedophilia: Dreaded monster that must be tamed
The alarming number of cases of minors getting raped is raising concern among Nigerians.
A minor, according to the Child’s Right Act, 2003, is a child below the age of 18.
A United Nations survey reveals that about 120 million girls around the world, slightly more than one in 10 have been raped or sexually assaulted.
In 2015, UNICEF reported that one in four girls in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.
However, Daily Trust checks reveal that 71 cases of minor rape were reported between January and June this year. It shows that Lagos State has the highest number of minor rape cases, followed by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
Of recent, the media have been awash with reports of acts of paedophilia. It appears that most of the menfolk have lost their decency and conscience.
The Vanguard edition of April 7th reported the arrest of a 33-year-old man identified as Henry Okwuome by the policemen in Lagos for allegedly defiling an 8-year-old girl.
In May, it was reported in Leadership how a 50-year-old man, Adebayo Attahiru, was arrested by the police in Niger State for allegedly raping a 4-year-old girl. If you think this is pathetic and shocking, the next one is more horrific.
On May 17, Daily Trust reported how a 25-year-old man identified as Nenekeso raped a toddler to death in Ganye Local Area of Adamawa State.
Sadly enough, many so-called revered men of God are also caught in the web of sexual attraction to children and actually defiling them.
On May 10, the Punch reported how a 62-year-old pastor Isaiah Akinojo, the founder of Dayspring Family Chapel, Egbeda area, Ibadan allegedly defiled a seven-year-old girl, who is the daughter of his friend and fellow pastor.
Going by the philosophical objective of education, teachers are supposed to be role models to their students. Unfortunately, paedophilia has become the past time of some of the male teachers. On March 29, ThisDay reported that one Babatunde Ibitoye, the owner of God’s Grace Nursery and Primary school in Ajilosun, Ado Ekiti was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping a 10-year-old pupil of his school.
Reasons for the surge in the scourge
Mrs. Veronica Umaru, the national coordinator of Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF) attributed the incessant cases of rape of minors to the dysfunctional family system and the recent economic downturn. She lamented that parents who are supposed to be a moral compass to their wards are not always there for them.
“Most parents are now busy looking for means to eke out a living for the family. So, children are now left to be on their own,” she said.
She urged parents to live up with their parental responsibilities.
Beyond the act
An Abuja-based medical practitioner and General Manager of Biotec Laboratory Products, Dr. Idigu David, said the aftermath effects of the heinous act are gruesome. He said the victims of the act are exposed to sexual transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and syphilis.
“Other immediate effects of minor rape are unwanted pregnancy and injuries as a result of damage of the victims’ vagina caused by forceful penetration” he added.
He, therefore, advocated for sex education to sensitize the minors on how to avoid and protect themselves against the act.
Ineffective law on paedophilia
Sections 31 and 32 of the Child’s Right Act, 2003 make child rape case a criminal offence which attracts life imprisonment or 14 years imprisonment. In a bid to curb the menace, the Senate last year passed the Sexual Offences Bill which prescribes life imprisonment for rapists and those who have sexual intercourse with children under 18 years. Despite the existence of these laws, cases of minor rape continue to spike steadily.
An Abuja-based legal practitioner, Barrister Ogunmola Olaseyi, said the prosecution of minor rape cases is frustrated by the different interpretations of the law.
“For instance, the criminal code states that if the minor consented, then there is no rape. On the other hand, the penal code states that whether there is consent or not, an intercourse with a minor is punishable under the law,” he said.
In spite of the different interpretations, however, he said the position of the law on minor rape is very clear.
“The Child’s Right Act, 2003 spells 14 years or life imprisonment for the offenders but unfortunately, this act has not been implemented by most states,” he said.
Another Abuja-based legal luminary and Human Right Activist, Barrister Kunle Ojelade, lamented that parents don’t report most rape cases which he believed was the major reason for the increase in the act.
“We are not God! How do we take up a rape case that we are not aware of?” he further lamented.
He called on the judiciary to live up to its responsibilities and quicken dispensation of justice in this regard.
Taming the monster
Pastor Remi Bankole of Transformation Life Church, Abuja said the act is an end time sign. He, therefore, urged parents to wake up to their parental responsibilities by inculcating good morals in their wards and be prayerful.
Mr. Emmanuel Okwudiri, resident of Jahi district, Abuja, who attributed the act to the prevalent moral decadence in the society, advised parents to give their wards basic sex education tips and also monitor their friends.
On her part, Mrs. Helen Tope said: “It is time we all say no to this wicked act. It is wrong to be pointing accusing finger only on the mothers. We all have a role to play to put an end to this act.”
Statistics compiled by Hassana Yusuf