By Kemi Olatunde
The rationale behind the defiling of minor is one that has always baffled people as they would wonder “what does he want with a child when there are many beautiful willing women out there?”
Some even rape toddlers and wee babies.
Despite several excuses given by pedophiles such as heaping the blame on the devil’s hapless head, many still find it difficult to understand why a fully grown man would not feel any qualms in rupturing a child’s undeveloped hymen.
The Hope spoke with a woman, Nike Tomiwa (not real names) who was willing to share her childhood traumatic experience.
.”When I was five years old, a family friend regularly abused me sexually. He was very close to my family and as such related well with every member of my family especially my siblings and me.
It began with him expressing a special interest in me. My parents sent me to him regularly to run errands for him.
“He lived alone in a one room apartment which he rented on the same street with us.
“He would always molest me and told me never to spill the beans. My parents were strict and as such there was never any opportunity to discuss the issue with any of them. It went on for a long time. It was quite hard to go through it at first.
“Then I began to enjoy it even at a tender age. I was sexually active all through my primary school even with other people around who took advantage of me. I met Christ while in secondary school and with constant help from people around me, I was delivered from immorality.”
Also a public servant who craved anonymity told The Hope that she left her previous residence due to her suspicion of a co-tenant within their compound.
“A suspected pedophile was discovered in our compound. The mother of the child he allegedly molested came to confront and beat him up along with other members of their family.
“I learnt that he wanted to molest a little girl of another neighbor. On hearing this, I told my husband and stressed the need for us to relocate to another area for the safety of our girls who are also minors.”
Also speaking with The Hope, the mother of the victim said; “A neighbour sent my daughter to the man’s house and she went there with her friend. The man gave them a phone to view sex films in his living room while he was in the bedroom after which she called Esther”s friend to meet him inside. On getting inside, she screamed and ran out of the house leaving my girl alone there.
“He came out of the room to see my girl still seeing the scenes and he decided to try it with my girl. She also screamed for help and ran out of the house.”
How the minds of pedophiles work
In unraveling how the minds of pedophiles work, medical experts have described a pedophile as a pedophilic disorder and Pedophilia (the act of a pedophile) is an obsession with children as sex objects. Overt acts, including taking sexual explicit photographs, molesting children, and exposing one’s genitalia to children are all crimes. The problem with these crimes is that pedophilia is also treated as a mental illness, and the pedophile is often released only to repeat the crimes or escalate the activity to the level of murder.
Experts say some of them recognize that their behavior is criminal, immoral, and unacceptable by the society, and operate in secrecy. The exclusive type of pedophile is attracted to children only while the non exclusive is attracted to both children and adults.
A pedophile will not stop on his own, and will not turn himself in, because he does not take responsibility for his behavior and denies that he’s doing anything harmful. He will abuse until he is caught.
The worst scenario is that a child does not always recognize when he or she is being abused, manipulated, or groomed by a pedophile. Unless the pedophile is a sexual sadist, he does not have to threaten a child into silence. The trust, gifts, secrecy, and relationship are enough inducements.
In some cases, the abuser will coerce the child into silence by saying that if anyone finds out, he would go to jail, or the child would, and maybe the child’s parents. In other cases, threats to harm the child, pets, and family are used.
Pedophiles can be “treated” but never cured, because their sexual preference has always been, and always will be, children. Their urges will always be present. Therefore, treatment focuses on changing, curbing, or re-directing the acting-out behaviors of pedophiles.
The parents and guardians should be observant of all the adults in their children’s lives, whether they wear a white collar, a blue collar, or a clerical collar.
If a child tells us he or she has been sexually abused by someone, be it family, friend, or trusted adult, we are obligated by law to report it to a child abuse hotline, police, or local children’s services agency.
Surveys report that well over 90 per cent of perpetrators in child sex offences are males.
Most pedophiles become aware of their sexual orientation during adolescence, though some say that they did not become aroused by children until middle age. A characteristic of some pedophile offenders, not shared with other types of criminals, is that they offend throughout their lives .Conviction and imprisonment often does not deter from re-offending.
Most pedophiles, it seems, do not act aggressively or violently towards children, rather they attempt to gain the child’s affection and interest by being friendly, often fixing on children who are otherwise deprived of affection.
As the child grows older, the pedophile ceases to be attracted and seeks a younger replacement. Thus there is an in-built tendency to commit offences against a large number of victims.
In line with the above, the following can be said to be the characteristics of a pedophile prefers the company of children, feels more comfortable with children than adults, is mainly attracted to prepubescent boys and girls. Can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual and “grooms” children with quality time, video games, parties, candy, toys, gifts, money. They single out children who seem troubled and in need of attention or affection, often dates or marries women with children that are the age of his preferred victims, rarely forces or coerces a child into sexual contact. Physical contact is gradual, from touching, to picking up, to holding on lap, to kissing, etc.
They derive gratification in a number of ways. For some, looking is enough. For others, taking pictures or watching children undress is enough. Still others require more contact. and they find different ways and places to be alone with children.
These people are often, but not always, themselves victims of some form of childhood sexual abuse.
Even if the pedophile has no children, his home is usually child-friendly, with toys, books, video games, computers, bikes, swing sets, skateboards, rec room, pool, snacks – things to attract children to his home and keep them coming back. Usually the items reflect the preferred age of his victims.
A female pedophile usually abuses a child when partnered with an adult male pedophile, and is often herself a victim of chronic sexual abuse.
A pedophile can act independently, or be involved in an organized group.
Link between pedophilia and incest
A father can be a pedophile while his own daughter can be his victim. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recently, Anambra State Government, in collaboration with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), rescued two siblings, aged five years and three years from their father who allegedly abused them sexually.
Anambra State Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, Ify Obinabo who disclosed this in Awka said that the rescue was carried out after a whistle blower reported the case to the ministry.
It was gathered that the suspect had been using his finger to penetrate the children’s private parts since 2020 when he drove their mother out of the house.
When the children were rescued, they were first taken to a hospital for examination and treatment. A doctor at the hospital ascertained that the children had been defiled.
“As at when they were brought to the hospital, there were fresh bruises on their private parts and the areas were also reddish and swollen,” the doctor said.
There is a similarity between pedophilia and incest. In Nigeria, from reports, incest is becoming an uncontrollable rash, occurring between father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, uncles, nephews, and nieces, while even minors are not spared. Incest is human sexual activity between family members or blood relatives; it is a crime of having sexual intercourse with a parent, child, sibling, or grandchild.
There were recent reports of a father who raped and impregnated his daughter and expelled her from their home, a five-year-old stepdaughter who was brutally raped, and a woman whose son fathered her three children. These bizarre stories pour in daily, inundating law enforcement personnel, who are not equipped to prosecute or are frustrated by the slow processes of the nation’s courts. Most of these cases, even when reported, are settled out of court, which may account for the paucity of data on cases of incest.
One of such cases was 38-year-old Patrick Ayesen, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May 2020 for raping and impregnating his 18-year-old daughter, at Okosa village, near Iguobazuwa, headquarters of Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo State.
Also 47-year-old Godwin Allu was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labour by a Benin Chief Magistrate’s Court for having carnal knowledge of his 12-year-old daughter on November 20, 2012 at number 19, Omono Street, off Stadium road, Benin City.
Pedophilia, a growing social ill- medical expert
Speaking extensively with The Hope on the topic, Chief Medical Director (CMD) Ondo State Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Akure, Dr. Akinwumi Akinnuoye explained that the condition borders on some unstable mental state which according to him does not necessarily mean mental illness.
“It partly anchors on psychological state of an individual and a social concern too. It is borne out of a defective/compromised mind such that they have abnormal preference in their sexual activity. It is under the sub group of sexuality problem; sexual preference disorder including Pedophilia,” he said.
Akinnuoye who noted that it is in both male and female with the male taking the lead, stated that dealing with it starts with high level of suspicion adding that the effects on victims are better prevented than handling.
According to him; “we can prevent it through our consciousness of its possibility in our environment. The reality of pedophile is to trust nobody hence people should not leave their children at the mercy of others.”
Speaking on the implications, he described it as a way of exposing them to sexual activity which can’t be properly handled at their level and can lead to disruption of their minds.
“It mostly confronts them with sexual related problems including sexual promiscuity. Also it leads to depression, anxiety disorder, psychosis, sexual preference disorder. They also have the tendency of becoming pedophiles especially when they don’t go through rehabilitation. Some of them will become wild naturally.” He said
He listed poverty, psychological problems and low self esteem especially among mothers as some of the risk factors noting that the time has come for mothers to be alive to their responsibilities especially on their children.
“It is not morally acceptable for a father to be in the same room with the girl child or teenager but due to poverty, it is the order of the day in some quarters. In situation like this, the mother must be observant and help the man not to harm the girl.
“Some mothers do not speak out because the man has over powered every member of the family and when such act is being displayed, the mother dare not protest against it.
“Also, some women are so helpless economically as they are dependants on their husbands for everything such that they have the gut to ask the reason behind their action(s).
The CMD who noted that pedophilia and rape share certain similarities as most times they are caused by trusted people, stressed the need for mothers to have high index of suspicion saying “they should be conscious of the possibility that everybody around your children can be a pedophile.
“They should also speak out because their silence gives perpetrators the courage to do it over again with the victim and other children. They should do the needful in given adequate protection to their children.”
He called on the society to discourage it and expose cases they see around them for proper sanctioning of perpetrators and its extinction from the society.
Traits a molested child will exhibit
There are some signs to look for in children who are victims such as; nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation, seems distracted or distant at odd times, sudden change in appetite (increase or decrease).
Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal, leaves “clues” that are likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues, new or unusual fear of certain people or places, refusal to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child, writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images and talks about a new older friend.
Other signs that would be noticable are that the victim may suddenly has money, toys, or other gifts without reason, thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad, exhibits new adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge
Has physical signs of sexual abuse (these are more rare, but may include the following):
Pain, bleeding, discharge or other physical trauma to the genitals, anus or mouth
Vaginal infections (girls) or sexually transmitted diseases and Persistent or recurring pain during urination or bowel movements.
Will the VAPP law deter pedophiles?
Speaking with The Hope, Ondo State FIDA Chairperson, Jumoke Ogunjebi explained that even though there are statistics of reported cases of child molestation, no line has been drawn to identify anyone as a pedophile.
She said “we have a situation where we refer to perpetrators as rapists or child molesters.
“There have been a lot of sentences on rapists and child molestation and most of the reported and prosecuted cases turned out in favour of the victims. Unfortunately, reporting is still low according to statistics so also persecution too as people don’t usually turn up. Based on the statistics, it is difficult to identify anyone as a pedophile at the moment.”
While noting that pedophiles live among us, she explained that when they are caught and are made to face the law Court, they may be punished.
Speaking further, she added that “where the punishment is not death, it is very likely that such persons will be returned to the society after serving their term. Thus, there is a need to rehabilitate them before they are reintroduced to society. There is also a need to structure how they live in order to help them stay off the crime.”
The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, also known as the VAPP law, is a very important legal tool that can help make the country much safer for women and girls.
According to the legal expert, the VAPP law is designed to tackle “all forms of violence against persons in private and public life” and provide “maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders. Other Nigerian laws say rape can only happen through vaginal penetration.
” The VAPP law redefines that and expands it to include oral and anal sex as well as the use of objects or other body parts other than the penis, a first of its kind. It is the only Gender Based Violence-focused legislation that provides for compensation of victims by offenders. It is the first federal law attempting to prohibit Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is still prevalent in Nigeria, across the whole country.”
She further explained that the VAPP law focuses on globally acceptable deterrents in the form of punishments for offenders and also includes provisions for the financial