Special Consideration: Elimination of Harmful Practices Affecting Boy Children ￼
In an African context, it is expected of male children that they will be strong, that they will be able to withstand pain, and that they will not show any sign of weakness even when they are in extreme discomfort. In certain regions of Nigeria, it is an undeniable fact that a woman risks losing her marital home if she is unable to conceive and give birth to a son. This is a situation that cannot be disputed. In this case, it’s because male children are seen as the ones who will keep the family’s name alive. Alternatively, some parts of society believe that the birth of a male child is a sign of bad luck, because of this, male children are often neglected and eventually become weapons of destruction in the hands of those who oppose the society.
The boys who are not properly cared for in the southern part of the country are maturing into street urchins, kidnappers, robbers, and fraudsters. On the other hand, the almajiris, bandits, and terrorists are being raised in the northern part of the country. When we take a look at the world we live in today, we see that the vast majority of people who commit suicide are men. Male children have a higher rate of becoming drug addicts, miscreants, robbers, kidnappers, terrorists, and fraudsters. The question that arises at this juncture is why it is that issues that pertain to the male child receive so little or no attention at all. Are we essentially claiming that the lives of these young men have no value or that society can function just fine without them?
According to the statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau for 2018, there were 21,605 cases of rape against children, of which 204 involved male children. According to a report published by UNICEF in 2015, one in four Nigerian females and one in ten Nigerian males have been the victims of sexual abuse. (Tribune 2021)
Parents in the northern part of the country, where the Almajiri system is practiced have delegated the responsibility of caring for and educating their male children to religious teachers, who then send the students out into the community to beg for alms in order to provide for the students’ maintenance. In the majority of cases, these young boys are the ones who are put in charge of wreaking havoc during times of crisis, particularly religious crises. They are turned into sacrificial lambs and used as cannon fodder by politicians in order to further their own political agendas.
The situation is the same in the southern part of the country, where the boys are known to be called “area boys,” some of whom are as young as nine or ten years old, are being used by the political class and the wealthy to cause mayhem throughout the nation. A high level of violence, including sexual assault, is also experienced by boys, just as it is by girls. As they mature into adults, the exposure to violence that they get from this in turn makes them more likely to engage in violent behaviour. Abuse of a male child carries with it a significant amount of shame and stigma because, in patriarchal societies, there is an expectation placed on the child to be strong. In this kind of society, male children are less likely to receive assistance; instead, they are expected to figure things out on their own.
A male child who has been the victim of sexual abuse may develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, thoughts of suicide, and always has a tendency toward violent behaviour. Many of them, particularly those who do not have the supervision of their parents or any other adult, are completely unaware that they have been subjected to sexual abuse.
Children of both sexes should receive the same level of care and attention. After all, the female is dependent on the male and likewise male is dependent the female. The existence of both genders was part of the creator’s original plan, and if we want to keep that plan intact, we can’t give issues that affect one gender more weight than those that affect the other.
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Written By: Michael Adegboye