Five Things Everyone Should Know About Sexual Violence Against Girls
Aside from COVID 19, violence against girls is another pandemic the world is battling. According to the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. This is alarming! Given that victims suffer physical, psychological, and social disorders on short term and long term basis as a result of sexual abuse, it makes it more devastating to both the victims and the society at large. We have taken our time to identify five facts that could help parents and guardians understand and protect their wards from falling victim. Have a good read.
- All sexual acts towards under 18 children is an abuse: Everyone needs to take note that a child, boy, or girl under the age of 18 cannot give consent. Therefore, any inappropriate touch or sexual act or marriage with them is considered illegal and an abuse. Statements such as; ‘she consented to it‘, ‘she seduced me’, ‘she requested for it’ are simply unacceptable.
- Sexual Violence is not alien as you think: There is a way hearing the news of child molestations feels strange, because no one has pedophiles written on their foreheads and humans tend to trust everyone around us until it is proven otherwise. However, research has shown that 90% of abuses are perpetrated by people known to the victims while 68% of child sexual abusers are relatives. We understand that we are social beings and it is almost impossible to raise a child in isolation, despite this, parents and guardians must ensure that they know the sexual history and behaviors of people before allowing their wards to spend time with them.
- Teenagers rarely Report Sexual Abuses: a study by Together for Girls revealed that 44% of Nigerian Female students and 35% of Male students experience abuse in schools. However, only 4% of females and 2% of males told someone about it. Less than 1% of both genders sought and receives care for sexual violence. Again, because you have not heard of such incidence in your neighborhood doesn’t mean it is not happening in your neighborhood. Teenagers do not report sexual abuses because they don’t want to be stigmatized, they don’t want to be blamed and the perpetrators tend to threaten to kill, fail, or deprive them of certain privileges. We need to cultivate an environment for victims and young people who are at risk to open up and seek care without the fear of being judged. And more importantly, parents and guardians should ensure they have a good relationship with their wards and encourage them to report all suspicious behaviors.
- Sex Education reduces Vulnerability: a study conducted by World Bank has revealed that children who have adequate knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health rights are less vulnerable to sexual violence. It is therefore recommended that parents, guardians, and teachers ensure they provide adequate sexuality education to their wards to reduce vulnerability. The Teenage Network has put together a short course on this (Sexual Education for Teenage Girls Vol. 1).
- Reporting Child Sexual Abuse does not tarnish your Image: despite the prevalence of child sexual abuse, more than half are unreported. This is influence by the fear of stigmatization, cultural and religious believes around forgiveness, and inadequate knowledge about the reporting procedure. Reporting an abuse has two major advantages; it helps the victim to access adequate care and the society to identify, prosecute, and punish the abuser, thereby protecting other children from becoming victims. To report, a child abuse, reach out to us through our helplines or our social media platforms, fill the incidence form on our websites on 07033167515. You can also reach out to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), police gender desk in your state, or other civil society organizations. The identity of the victim will be kept confidential and justice is guaranteed.
Having read these facts, you would agree that ending sexual violence is the collective responsibility of all of us because it poses a great threat to society at large. We all have to be involved by campaigning against sexual violence, refusing to stigmatize victims, and ensuring perpetrators are brought to book.
Written By: Ebunoluwa Ayodele
Monitoring and Evaluation Intern, Teenage Network.