Sunday 26 July 2009

Thought Picnic: Preserving childhood sexual innocence

A childhood unlike many

I had to give myself time for my anger to percolate and evaporate before writing this piece because it goes to the heart of what rankles me most about our humanity.

Invariably, I can understand why I would never be a parent, my concern for child welfare is almost too Utopian to be possible, but it really is not, the rearing of a child, a stage of development I also went through has its memorable and blissful moments where the pursuit of happiness and realisation of childish dreams effortlessly happened because my parents and the community I was in provided for such.

I have written a lot about my childhood and I know for some readers, it would be unimaginable that such childhood experiences could be in Nigeria – my childhood memories are living fossils of wealth that stand in good stead for my present and future.

The loss of sexual innocence

The dark moments of this childhood only became evident with enlightenment after growing up, when at 7, my sexual innocence was tampered with, I was none the wiser about what was going on as to tell my parents that I had been interfered with.

When until I was 10 the male servants had their sweet desserts on my account, I felt I was just as culpable that it was not something I could report to my parents either. The situation was set up in such as way as to make me appear willing, encouraged, pliant, and available. I could have been as close to a catamite as you could get but it is all now clear that it was all wrong.

No child should have its sexual innocence violated and defiled by adults whose despicable and repressed sexual desires find an outlet in children in their care.

It is wrong, it is criminal and it must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Giving children a voice

It means we must make our children aware of those dangers and foster an environment where at the initial stage of grooming the intended act is nipped in the bud and perpetrators quickly curtailed.

Indeed, there are societies that cannot handle child sexual abuse with understanding, maturity and the resolution to manage the trauma whilst punishing the offenders, however, there is no excuse to ignore the victim to spare our blushes – that would be the greatest crime of all.

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