THE high rate of pedophilia menace ravaging our society is quite alarming. In recent times, the social media has been bombarded with news of sexual atrocities committed by pedophiles against minors across the states in Nigeria. On daily basis, there have been reported cases of prepubescent minors and toddlers, being defiled or molested by their fathers, relatives, teachers, or neighbours, a dastardly act, which is frightening and emotionally disturbing sexual offences against children.
REPORTS have shown there are pedophiles in every part of Nigeria. Approximately two million girls in Nigeria reportedly experience sexual abuse every day. From statistics across the world, in 2015 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that one in four girls and one in ten boys had experienced sexual violence before the age of eighteen, with half experiencing physical violence. Also, a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access found that over 31.4 per cent of girls said their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind. The Hope notes, that some of the undesirable and vicious perpetrators who are more than just mean, as they have not only attacked the female folks, but have extended their ungodly acts to male minors.
PENULTIMATE week, the Lagos State Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court sitting in Ikeja, sentenced the Medical Director of Optical Cancer Care Foundation in Lagos, Dr. Olufemi Olaleye, to double life imprisonment for defiling his wife’s niece. The court invoked its power in sentencing and convicting the revered medical practitioner, according to Section 358 of the Criminal Code Act which provides that; “Any person who commits the offence of rape is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without caning.” But for the diligent prosecution in the instant case, it could have been one of the too many cases of defilement of minors that go unreported but swept under the carpet. We, therefore, commend the court for the verdict and quick dispensation of justice.
HOWEVER, despite the penalty for offenders stipulated in our laws, many of these unscrupulous elements still go ahead to commit the dastardly acts. And this stirs up the question of whether they have psychological or physiological problems? Or rather, maybe they have other ulterior motives in committing the crime? Some psychologists, Rice and Harris, 2002; Greenberg et al., 2005, stated reasons for pedophilic acts to include; sexually inexperienced adolescents, mentally retarded persons, and those with antisocial personality disorders (ASPDs), or perpetrators within general traumatizing family constellations, which seek surrogate partners in children. However, the general belief in our society insinuates money rituals as the motive behind the act.
THE conditions that increase girls’ risk of sexual abuse vary from child labour, poor parenting, poverty, environments, etc. Another survey conducted by the Child Protection Hub (CPHub) shows that only 27 per cent of all respondents who admitted to having witnessed child abuse reported the case to the necessary authorities. It, therefore, behooves on parents, particularly mothers, to keep close watch on their male and female children and rescue them from the devil incarnates. Unfortunately, these things happen under the noses of some negligent parents, whereas the onus lies on them to safeguard their wards.
SEXUAL criminal act, no doubt, inflicts psychological, emotional, and physical scars on the victims. The act, particularly against children causes irreversible damages, altering the minds and quality of life of the innocent and trusting souls. We advocate intensive medical treatment for the victims of pedophiles, so as to wipe out any trace of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, STDs, which might affect them later in life. The government should also provide a conducive environment to rehabilitate them and work on their mindset, so they do not continue to live with the psychological trauma or act negatively in the society.
MANY who frown at the alarming rate of child sexual abuse by pedophiles have called on the Federal Government to amend the laws to accommodate castration as a stiffer punishment for offenders. Also, Justice Eberechi Wikeof the Rivers State High Court, has recommended amputation for persons found guilty of defiling minors. Justice Wike, who is the wife of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, said the current punishment for rapists is not drastic enough, adding that amputation will stop sexual offenders from molesting minors. She stated this on the sidelines of the 2nd National Conference of Family Court Judges, Magistrates, and other Family Court Practitioners in Port Harcourt, and stressed that society should step up punishments for people who defile children beyond life imprisonment or a 14-year jail term.
THE HOPE posits that if only our society knew the danger inherent in the prevalence of pedophilia menace, then we will fight it nail and tooth, to either tame the offenders and isolate them from our environment, so they do not continue to jeopardize the future of the innocent minors. At present, we know that there is no magic wand to put an end to the menace. But we urge the government of Nigeria to take further steps in bringing the act to the barest minimum.