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Sexual abuse of children


We are continuing with our series on sexual violence as we chat about sexual abuse of children.
Do you watch the news? Remember the doctor who by the last count had sexually assaulted more than two hundred young people from as young as six. These children were under his charge as gymnastic doctor
What did you feel? when an enraged distraught father made a lunge for him. Okay, he was sentenced to more than a hundred years, but what about the damage to the children? These stories come to us almost daily.

You hear of children sexually abused, and do you sigh or just change the channel so you could watch a less disturbing story. How much have we lost that which makes us human even as we rush to our concept of civilization? We all talk about the freedom to express, freedom to be whatever sexual deviant we fancy.

Excuse me while I breathe the foul air of what our freedoms have done to our essential humanity. I am not an activist screaming equality for one vice or the other.
Let us take a look around and ask ourselves what type of world do we really truly live in, and what type of humans are now being incarnated into the world.
I am not interested in changing the world order, but I ask questions and I wonder. Let us read about Folake and her story.

‘I always wanted to be a doctor, not because it was the usual thing girls of my age expressed while in primary or secondary school. There was even a song that children sang and we would shake our waists in the moonlight as we all told our listeners our future ambitions. Even when I got admitted into the secondary school, I was clear about wanting to be not just a doctor but a cardiologist. I faced my studies really seriously and maintained an academic level that encouraged my parents that I really wanted more education.
Disaster struck in my third year in secondary school when Mr. Galadima came in as the Physics teacher. I was a science student and actually loved the subjects. I had maintained pretty good grades and maybe that was what got the unwelcome attention of my Physics teacher. My hand would shoot up every time in class, so he took notice. I didn’t understand the looks he would shoot my way until one evening at prep when he sent for me.

I innocently responded to his invitation that he wanted me to get him something from the physics lab. I got there and kept searching for what he had asked me until a pair of hands grabbed me from behind and spun me into his arms with such force that I almost screamed in fright. He covered my mouth with his hands and held me tightly. I was terrified. Mr. Galadima tried to calm me down by running his fingers all over me and kept saying I should calm down. He kept apologizing and said he had asked me to come to the lab because he wanted to talk to me in private.He said he had fallen in love with me I was an unformed 14-year-old.

I was tense in those masculine circle he had made with his hands and I felt my heart was going to jump right out of my body. It was beating so loudly. He kept pinching my breasts as I squirmed to get out of his reach. Then he begged me to kiss him. I had never been kissed so I gave a horrified no and tried to fight free. There was thus a silent struggle as I tried to duck from under his arms. He smelt awful and had bad breath as he roamed his face all over me. I was by now sobbing and doing everything I could to be free. I was scared that he was going to do something awful. Mercifully I heard the principal asking who was in the physics labaQuick as lightning, he pushed me under the table with a fierce whisper for me to stay still as he raised his voice , telling the principal that he had come to pick his lesson notes. He stepped out and went on the inspection with the principal.
I crept out and ran to the hostel, fetched water and scrubbed away at my painful unformed breasts. I did not go to my physics class the next day, and from then on failed my physics test. I lived in silent terror of being touched by a man because I always felt dirty.

Years later when almost forty I married. Of course, I never became a doctor as I moved away from science subjects. My principal would look at me and sigh. He would ask me if there was anything that bothered me. He used to say I was one of his brightest students. Each time I tried to say something, I would remember mum saying in real bitterness ‘Never put your trust in man, there are more like pigs’ she always ended the sentence with distaste.
I am four times divorced woman now. Gave up on the idea, my second husband did all he could to stop me cringing each time he touched me.
I never liked physics again and I keep wondering what I will do if I ever set my eyes on Mr. Galadima.

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Can we talk about sexuality?

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There have been arguments for and against starting early to talk about sexuality to your child. In the wake of the rising abuse against young children, I have always believed that no time is too early.
We all know that as first educators it will be a bit much to expect your child to get educated about sexuality from outside your home. You are horrified at the very idea of that. It is therefore imperative and urgent that you ask yourself the questions and have answers ready.

Let’s look at this way, when your child was on the way, you took steps to get all the proper information that would be necessary, you went to ante-natal classes and the expectant father followed you the occasional time right?
So why would you not prepare your child for that phase in her/his life that might become bewildering if your child does not get proper briefing?

HOW DO WE START?

Sexuality is not simply about sex, so we don’t need to be embarrassed.
Tell your child that the expression of his/her sexuality is a normal component of living. The reproductive organs have their physical as well as emotional uses and a proper understanding is necessary. Children need tobe taught how to take responsibility for their body. As you teach the child how to bathe , clean, and brush you also start in age –appropriate language to show to the child that it has to take responsibility for his/her sexuality. It is not good enough to tell a child who asks you innocently what is the bump you are carrying, with the curt embarrassed words “ wait till you are married”

My daughter when she was little will watch me breastfeed her younger sister, one day unable to contain her curiosity she asked me why her sister was always eating my chest!. I stared in total surprise then I realized that the act of her sister puzzled her. I told her I was giving her younger sister milk. She piped in that there was milk at home why would I hide her sister’s milk in my chest? I explained as much as I assumed she could grasp that it was not just a chest but that I was given her sister the natural milk that nature had prepared for her through me. I let her know that I had done the same thing for her when she was her sister’s age. I explained being very small, her sister might not be able to chew as she does and Nature had planned things in such way, that what her sister needed was food that contained everything. I took the opportunity to tell her that as she gets older, being a girl, she would develop breasts too and she could give her own baby food that way. Of course like a child, she would not leave it at that, every parent knows about the endless questions of children! What I do when I am stuck with a barrage of questions like that, I offer to find out the answers. Sometimes you get respite that way. However, saying you are going to help look for the answers does two things, you get the respite, and you also show to the child, that no one has all the answers all the time. You build trust that way.

THE PARENT IS FIRST EDUCATOR
Parents are naturally the first socializing agents for your child. Your child will ask you the questions first. It is your chance to establish core family values. Your opportunity to bond and establish a relationship. You will find that as time goes on this relationship becomes fluid and changes form and substance but then that is life, and you flow and are fluid with it. You have the chance to transmit love and understanding. You thus need to develop communicating skills when it comes to issues of sexuality. You seize every opportunity looking for the right moments. Definitely, you are not going to be discussing with your six year old, what is best discussed when the child is entering puberty.
Parents must learn age- appropriate answers to give.