‘People should be made accountable for their actions’

Kathlyn Eyitemi

Kathlyn Eyitemi

Kathlyn Eyitemi is the Founder, Sisters Interact Network. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, she talks about sexual violence on children, its effects and what parents should do.

What is your take on Sexual violence on children?
Sexual violence is not only a violation of a child’s right but a violation of our collective psyche as human beings. And it is a global reality that cuts across ethnic and religious or racial divides. It can take the form of sexual abuse, harassment, rape or sexual exploitation in prostitution or pornography. It is just a pathetic situation on many levels. Unfortunately it is on the rise as we see it reported in the news daily.

What measures should be put in place to protect children?
Truth there is no full proof way to protect children from domestic violence. Most children who are abused are abused under the very nose of their own parents and the people who abuse them are people who should protect them. Like close family relatives and friends. So, it is even difficult to really put a peg when the abuse happens except that parent is really discerning. And in most cases anyway the child comes to physical harm and that is when the child is able to speak up when their parents press for answers.

Nowadays, the internet and mobile phones also put children at risk of sexual violence as some adults look to the internet to pursue sexual relationships with children.  So you do not even know it but your child is in a sexual relationship with an adult via the internet. That is why we must be careful what our children are allowed to access on social media. There is also an increase in the number and circulation of images of child abuse. Children themselves also send each other sexualized messages or images on their mobile phones. We just need to watch our children more closely and be involved in their day to day activities. We need to develop a communication language with them that make it easy for them to tell us everything that happens to them in our absence. As a parent you also need to know what happens with your child at school with teachers and friends. So try as much as you can to be your child’s best friend. Make sure the child is talking to you like a beat friend.

What should be done to perpetrators of this evil act?
Last year the Senate on  passed the Sexual Offences Bill, 2015 which prescribes life imprisonment for rapists and those who have sexual intercourse with children under 11 years.

In- spite of the increasing spate of sexual violence in our communities, the true magnitude of the act itself is hidden because of its sensitive and illegal nature. Most children and families do not report cases of abuse and exploitation because of stigma, fear, and lack of trust in the authorities. Social tolerance and lack of awareness also contribute to under-reporting. Particularly in Nigeria, where we leave everything to God.

As a people we need to progress to a better ideological formation where we begin to make people become accountable for their actions. Here somebody is abusing your child, your neighbours will say forgive, your family members will beg and your pastor will say forgive. In the end justice is denied because no charges are brought against the perpetrator and he just moves on to his next victim who will then forgive him again.

Sexual violence can have long-term physical, psychological and social consequences not only for girls or boys, but also for their families and communities. This includes increased risks for illness, unwanted pregnancy, psychological distress, stigma, discrimination and difficulties at school.

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