Victims of sexual abuse or sexual violence vary between men, women, and even children. All over the world, mostly women have been on top of cases of sexually abused victims. In Africa and a country like Nigeria women are seen as being inferior to men in many societies as well as due to gender inequality. There are also cases of men being victims of sexual abuse but not as compared to women.
Focusing the topic on Children being victims of sexual abuse, cases of children being sexually molested and abused has been on the rise lately and we all have a duty of care in reporting cases, curbing, and speaking against it. It is not a natural thing for children to be sexually active except their orientation has one way or the other been influenced without them having full knowledge of what they are getting involved in.
These guidelines adopt the definition of child sexual abuse formulated by the 1999 WHO Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention (62) which stated that:
“Child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Child sexual abuse is evidenced by this activity between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person. This may include but is not limited to:
- The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
- The exploitative use of a child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
- The exploitative use of children in pornographic performance and materials”.
Therefore we must hold perpetrators of child sex accountable for their behavior, bring them to book to be punished, and therefore discourage further acts of sexual violence.
It is important to note that in a country like Nigeria people are fond of looking for excuses and blaming parents of children that are abused for being careless or negligent thereby disregarding the sexual abuse and the culprit when in fact we should be hard on them. This behavior has caused further upspring of sexual violence because the perpetrator in most cases is not being served severe punishment. Victim blaming happens in many ways and can be defined as an assumption that a victim or parent of the victim is responsible for the crime committed against them based on the way s/he behaves, dresses, or lives or due to negligence and carelessness on the parent’s hand.
Such beliefs add to the prevalence of sexual violence. Sexual abuse in children interferes with a child’s development associated with emotional distress. In many cases of children sexual abuse, children do not disclose abuse immediately following the incidence most likely because the perpetrator may have convince them not to talk, made threats, or given them offers they can’t resist as children without being cautious of the crime in place.
Therefore its in our place to speak up for children and help fight against this vicious crime.