Rising cases of child rape in Nigerian schools
Everybody in the room watched in awe as the two-year-old narrated her ordeal allegedly in the hands of a man paid to protect her.
It all played out recently at the Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, Lagos State, as an ex-social worker, Gloria Chinoyera, claimed that the school’s supervisor raped the little girl.
Idowu was accused of defiling the child last November at the school premises but he had denied it. In presenting her case, Chinoyera said, “At 9.15 a.m. on November 24, 2016, the defendant was brought to the police station, the mother of child `X’ was asked to bring her daughter to the station.
During the interaction with child, she said that Mr. Idowu had used his ‘wee-wee’ on her ‘wee-wee’ and his mouth on her ‘wee-wee.’ She also said that he comes to her classroom to sit and watch the television with her.
“The police made a video recording of our interaction with child `X’. Shortly after our interview, Mr. Idowu was brought by the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) into the room we were in.
The IPO did not realise that we were still in the room. When she (the IPO) realised we were still in the room, she pulled Mr. Idowu back but child `X’ had already seen him.
She got very emotional and started crying that she wanted to see Mr. Idowu, that he is her friend. We tried to calm her down but she kept insisting that she wanted to see him.”
The lawyer continued with her testimony: “We decided to visit the school at VGC, Ajah.
She (the child) was asked to show us her classroom which she did and the first classroom she showed us had no television in it. We were made to understand that was her new classroom as the school had changed her classroom after the allegation against Mr. Idowu.
We asked her to show us her former classroom which she did and right in that classroom there was a black television.
“We asked her to show us Mr. Idowu’s office where she alleged he took her to. She played for a while because she did not know the seriousness of what was happening.
She took us upstairs, pointed to an office and an official confirmed that that was Mr. Idowu’s office. She also showed us a room in the office which is to the right which has a toilet where she claimed he cleaned her up after the act.”
At the next trial of the case, a video of the child depicting how she was sexually abused by the accused was shown. In the video, the little girl was given a paper to draw the private parts of the accused, which she did – and one other image.
During that session, the following conversation ensued between the girl and the psychologist assessing her.
“That is the hand he put in my ‘wee-wee’,” the child said of the second image.
“Where is Mr. Idowu’s ‘wee-wee’?” she pointed to her private parts as the assessor asked her.
“Does he put his ‘wee-wee’ in your ‘wee-wee’?”
It is yet to be seen how the case will end. But the Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011, prescribes a life sentence for the offence of defilement of a child.
The case was adjourned until March 21.
In the mean time, the management of the school is not taking the allegation lying down having initially made frantic efforts to defend its supervisor.
Last week, it issued a statement – addressed to parents with pupils in the school – claiming witch-hunting.
“We believe there is a conspiracy against our school brand and this is nothing but paid journalism. We pray that the good Lord will vindicate us. Please be assured that your children are in safe hands. We have successfully built a solid reputation over the last 40-years and we continue to stand for excellence,” the statement said.
Last year, the headmaster of a school in Lagos State was caught pants down having sexual intercourse with a Primary five pupil in one of the school’s toilets.
“That wasn’t the first time,” the poor child told social workers.
In 2015, two Basic Three girls in a private school were found to be exhibiting some curious sexual behaviour.
“By the time we encouraged them to talk about it, promising them no one will discipline them, they revealed that a male teacher in the school had been showing them pornographic videos and materials. More unfortunate is that during those times he fondled their private parts and encouraged them to fondle his. He also urged them to fondle each other’s private parts,” the proprietress, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Few months after, in another school, a 15-year-old girl was discovered to be pregnant. It took a lot of persuasions to get the girl to divulge the person who impregnated her.
“He warned me that I would die if I told anyone he had been having sex with me. He didn’t know I am pregnant. He had been having sex with me almost every week,” the abashed girl said.
The culprit was her biology teacher – married, a father of four kids, a girl and three boys.
In a daycare centre, a young nanny was found to be in the habit of rubbing the penises of toddlers on her genitals and getting them to suck her breasts.
Early this year, a young man on National Youth Service Corps, serving in a junior secondary, posted on Facebook that there was an 11-year-old boy he was in love with but he did not know how to approach him.
The online post indicates that young children can be exposed to homosexual acts long before they can realise it is an unnatural sexual disposition.
Nigerian schools and other educational centres seem to have become a fertile ground for child sexual abuse and a breeding ground for paedophiles. Nothing worries parents more than that.
As the plague of child sexual abuse erodes the moral and social fabrics of schoolchildren, schools and parents appear helpless and clueless concerning what to do. Often, if a case of child sexual abuse gets reported at a police station, the matter is ‘settled’ covertly as the abuse itself.
There is no sex offenders’ register in Nigeria, meaning that a paedophile if dismissed from a school can be employed by another school to teach children.
The facts and figures of sexual molestations of schoolchildren in Nigeria are grim.
According to a 2015 United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) report, six out of 10 children in the country are made to experience sexual abuse before the age of 18.
That may pale into insignificance when compared with the fact that some of these sexual violations come in the form of rape.
Corroborating that fact is the Positive Action for Treatment Access’s report that more than 31 per cent of girls had their first sexual encounter through rape.
Specifically, at least 1,200 girls were raped in Rivers State in 2012 according to the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development.
In that same year, a four-year (between 2008 and 2012) analysis of sexual assault cases at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) revealed that out of a total 287 reported cases of sexual assault, 83 per cent of the victims were below the age of 19.
And in its study on sexual abuse, Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH), ound out that 70 per cent of sexual assault victims were under the age of 18.
Sex still remains a subject discussed in hush tones at many homes, leaving ignorant kids potential and vulnerable preys of sexual predators in schools. Many campaigns have been made about sex education being included on the academic menu of schools for children.
However, not a few people, especially parents are apprehensive such education may go wrong. In the end oftentimes, the kids learn about sex the hard and unfortunate ways.
According to experts, sexually abused children perform less than their classmates. They feel distracted and withdrawn from other students, teachers and then from their studies.
In 2015, one Aisha Tokura, the founder of Twin and I Child Care Foundation in partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Youth Reformation Centre (YRC) waged a campaign against child sexual abuse.
“We’ve done a programme on ‘stop child sexual abuse’ in some select schools. We are targeting about 15 schools in the first round of campaigns. It is enlightenment about child sexual abuses and to tell them (kids) how to prevent it from happening. In that process, the idea is that children do not feel compelled or forced to do something they don’t want to do.
“We are also encouraging them to speak out when abused. We realised in the schools that some of the students are afraid to talk. So, to encourage the students to talk, in each school we visit, we set up clubs; it’s easy for the students to come to us and tell us what is happening to them,” Tokura said.
Education and psychology experts note that prevention is better than cure. They urged parents to ensure that as part of the things they look out for in enrolling their kids in a particular school is the moral integrity of the teachers and other workers. They also encouraged parents to teach their children, no matter how awkward it may be, sex education.
But there is the need to rehabilitate children who are already abused sexually.
“We are creating awareness but we are also trying to identify the ones that have been abused in schools so we can counsel them and see how we can mitigate the damage the child abuse has done to their psyche,” Tokura had pointed out.
Mr. Jona Ukpai, the Chief Investigation Officer of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), agreed that the incidence of child trafficking and sexual abuse is high in Nigeria.
Weighing in on the issue, Margaret Udoh, the National Council of Child Rights Abuse of Nigeria, said, “Child sexual abuse is one of the crimes that should have stricter penalties in Nigeria.”
Nigeria being one of the 194 countries of the United Nations that signed the Convention to the Rights and Welfare of the Child, analysts said little has been done by school authorities and the government to protect children at crèche, kindergarten, nursery, and other learning centres for young ones.
According to the convention, children have the right to survival; the right to develop to the fullest; right to protection from harmful influences and abuse and exploitation and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.
It remains to be seen when state governments will begin to name, shame and nail child sex offenders by publishing their names and photos, so that the public can be aware of the potential danger of having such ones being close to their children.
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