Handling Sexual Violence Against Children
As a result of the circumstances in which the girl child finds herself in urban Nigeria, she is vulnerable to physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Millions of girl children worldwide face sexual abuse, which can occur at home, school, or in the community. According to UNICEF, at least 120 million girls under the age of 20 (roughly one in every ten) have been forced to engage in sex or other sexual acts, though the actual figure is likely much higher. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of every ten children worldwide is sexually abused.
The girl child victims experience an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, pain, illness, unwanted pregnancy, social isolation, and psychological trauma and, in turn, have resorted to risky behaviors such as substance use, as well as suicidal tendencies in other to cope with trauma. Experiencing child sexual abuse can also increase a person’s risk for future victimization. For example, recent studies have found that; Females exposed to child sexual abuse are at 2-13 times increased risk of sexual violence victimization in adulthood, and people who experienced child sexual abuse are at twice the risk for non-sexual intimate partner violence. In most cases, the girl child is abused and then made to feel personally responsible, guilty, or persecuted. They are often threatened with violence if they speak up about the sexual abuse or abuser, which has affected victims’ self-esteem and confidence. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, the year 2020 recorded a fourfold increase in various forms of violence against women and girls. This underscored the need to continue to fund, respond to, prevent the occurrence and collect robust evidence of violence against them.
No community has developed mechanisms that ensure that none of their female children will be sexually abused, but there are several ways we can help to stop this social menace in our society and this includes; Speaking to a girl child in your family or community about sexual abuse, tell them that unwanted contact is never acceptable and that it’s OK to speak up if someone makes them uncomfortable; Perpetrators should be held accountable for abuse and ensure victims know that justice is served to their abuser; Also members of the society should support survivors and call out sexual violence and harassment when they see it, this would help girls to live and work in safety as they grow up. Parents should watch those they bring to their homes, particularly the so-called aunties, uncles, and family friends. They should also create the time to interact with their children as this would help the children open up when they have challenges or have suffered any form of sexual abuse.
In conclusion, a comprehensive campaign is needed that combats sexual abuse, gender-based inequalities, discrimination, exploitation, oppression, inhuman values, and violations of human rights against the girl child. People must radically change their attitudes and actions towards girl children, this is because the girl children are not a commodity or sex objects but “humans’ worthy to be loved, respected, valued and cared for.”
Visit us at www.Hacey.org for more on the girl child.