CHRISTIAN ETHICAL VIEW ON CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA
Background to the study
Child sexual abuse is a vice that is sadly prevalent in our world today. Children are used for all sorts of sexual perversion from rape to defilement and even use of children for pornography. However, in the Nigerian context, by reason of the laws defining rape as well as conventional, child sexual abuse usually connotes abuse predominantly of the female child unfortunately to the neglect of the male child sufferer of sexual abuse. These children’s perspectives have rarely been explored in relation to the help they receive towards their emotional and mental well-being. At times the affected children are reluctant to seek consultation with specialists or quickly cease further contact. It is therefore imperative to evolve legal and policy instruments to involve young male children in decisions and mechanisms likely to affect their lives and future endeavours.
In uncomplicated terms, sexual abuse refers to unwanted sexual activity forced on a person by another through coercion or threats.1 It may involve rape, sexual assault, sexual molestation or pornography. The definition of sexual abuse with children is when an older person, a youth or an adult uses a child or youth in his or her own sexual gratification.2 This kind of violation includes all sorts of activities from rape of any orifice on the child, to fondling the genitals of the child, to forcing the child to fondle or touch the abuser’s genitals, to forcing the child to perceive sexually explicit acts in any form (media, directly or reading).
Abuse may also be as a result of cultural practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.
A child by definition, under the Child’s Rights Act (CRA), is any person under the age of 18 years.3 By all standards, a child is vulnerable compared to the adult and as such he/she require care and protection from anything that may occasion harm or threat to his/her well being.
Unfortunately, a good number of adults take undue advantage of a child’s vulnerability and exploit the child. In particular, sexual exploitation of children has become a rampant feature in societies the world over. According to the British National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), statistics on Child Sexual Abuse gave the results to the effect that nearly a quarter of young adults experienced sexual abuse during childhood4. Also a survey on 134 men and 202 women aged 25 to 44 years in Nicaragua found that 19% and 27% of men and women respectively reported sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence. (Omorodion, 1994) While it is generally acknowledged that sexual abuse is existent in all countries the world over, available statistics concerning the prevalence of child sexual abuse in Sub-Saharan Africa are very limited (Terry & Lalor, 2004). It should be noted at this juncture that the statistics cannot be too accurate because of the problem of non-reporting of sexual offences, due to a variety of factors such as the social stigma attached to it, more abuse and injury consequent upon the report, fear of retribution and ridicule, and lack of confidence in investigators, police and health workers.5 In South-Eastern Nigeria, according to a scholar, a survey of reported cases of child sexual abuse in three major towns in that region showed that 60% of the cases involved girls below the age of 12 years.
Sexual abuse is an unwanted sexual activity, with the perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of the person or persons concerned, who are not able to give approval or consent. Akanle, (2010:1) asserts that sexual abuse is “the act of forcing or attempting to force another individual through violence, threat, verbal pressure, deception, cultural expectation and economic circumstances to engage in sexual activity against individual wish.” Reflecting further, Eze and Ajayi ( 2009:115) observed that sexual abuse “occurs when individuals go beyond silent and respectful forms of sexual recognition of themselves to impose interactive sexual recognition and gratification on the other person.” It includes rape, child sexual abuse, teenage prostitution and early marriage.
In the Nigerian socio-religious society, sexual abuse has been on the increase. Several factors have been advanced to that effect. These include, “low level of education,
skill training, and bargaining capacity” (Ibrahim and Shehu 2009:107). Meanwhile, females and children bear the grunt of those that are victims of sexual abuse. Nkwegu (2009:123) observed that the “nature of child exposure to modernity and pornographies and parents attitude towards sex” have led to increase in cases of sexual abuse.
Nnachi (2003:34) echoes that, “sexual abuse appeared to be one of the most serious offences committed by adolescents.” “Adolescents” does not necessarily mean the youth. It ranges “between 13 and 18” years of age as explored by Hornby (2010:20). In the light of this, Adunola (2005:12) observed that “a hospital based research has shown that 80 percent of patients with abortion complications are adolescents. This assertion was based on the fact that over 16 percent of teenage females reports first sexual intercourse by the age of 15 years, while 8.3 percent of boys of age 15 years have also had their first intercourse.” Finkelhor (1979:8) borrowed an insight from the thesis put forward by Adunola by stating that sexual abuse includes “fondling and all forms of oral genital, or anal contact with the victim(whether the victim is clothed or unclothed), as well as non-touching abuses such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, or involving the child or youth in pornography.
Sexual abuse refers to sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given (John Paul II). The National Centre on Elder Abuse describes sexual violence as “the abuse of sex and “non-consenting sexual contact of any kind” including unwanted touching; sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, and coerced nudity; sexually explicit photographing; and sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent. 2Jurisdictions and agencies define “elder” differently but typically as commencing at the age of 60 or 65 (Oduyoye, 1996). The victims who experience sexual abuse are mostly female. The person responsible for the violence is typically male and is usually someone known to the victim. The person can be, but is not limited to, a friend, co-worker, neighbour, or family member. There are many types of sexual abuse. Not all include physical contact between the victim and the perpetrator (person who harms someone else) – for example, sexual harassment, threats, and peeping. Other sexual abuse, including unwanted touching and rape, includes physical contact. Sexual abuse can impact health in many ways.
Some ways are serious and can lead to long-term health problems. These include chronic pain, headaches, stomach problems, and sexually transmitted diseases (Atado, 1991). Sexual abuse can have an emotional impact as well. Victims often are fearful and anxious. They may replay the attack over and over in their minds. They may have problems with trust and be wary of becoming involved with others. The anger and stress that victims feel may lead to eating disorders and depression. Some even think about or attempt suicide. Sexual abuse is linked to sexual violence and negative health behaviours.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Sexual Violence, whether domestic violence or otherwise, has become a real issue in Nigeria today. With the increased level of information in this digital age, messages flow between Whatsapp and Facebook daily that speak of sexual violence, mostly of women and children. These victims are molested by their parents, landlords, teachers, drivers, pastors and so on
Inspite of the efforts made by Christian organization in eradicating child abuse in Nigeria, there are certain practices among parents, caretakers and guidance that go against these efforts. Child sexual affects many children of all ages. physical abuse, psychological maltreatment severe beating, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse are key areas of immediate action in Ado-Ekiti. Below are prevailing series of child abuse noticeable in the state.
Child sexual abuse as a social problem has disastrous effects on the development growth of children. It is in view at this that individual organisation and researcher on poised to stem this ugly tide.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research question were raised
- What are the attitude of Christian towards sexual abuse of children in Nigeria
- To what extent does sexual abuse affect children social behavuour
- What are the factors that lead to sexual abuse of children
- What are the preventive measure put in place by Christian organization to curb sexual abuse of child
Objectives Of The Study
The main objective of the study is to examine Christian ethical view on child abuse in Nigeria with special reference to Ado Local Government Area.
The specific objectives are to;
- Determine the attitude of Christian towards sexual abuse of children in Nigeria
- Find out the extents in which sexual abuse affect children social and emotional behavuour
- To determine the factors to lead to sexual abuse of children
- Determine preventive mesure put in place by Christian organization to eradicate child sexual abuse of children
The following hypotheses were raised;
- There is no siginiciant different between Christian ethical view towards sexual abuse of children
- Sexual abuse of children does not have significant different on child social and emotional development
Significance of the Study
Nature has made provision for “cause and effect” “Action and Reaction”. Therefore, a study of this kind will be a great virture of significance to focus on the major determinant that is responsible for cause and effects relationships of child abuse. The action to be taken and the possible outcome of such action.
It is also believed that these determinants are duly identified, they would help to identify the problems of those who practice child abuse which causes their physiological stability.
It will invariably make the citizens to be acting against child abusers by the society and the government too.
Furthermore, it is a very valuable tool for the researchers, health administrators, counselors, health practitioners, educationist, lecturers, teachers and various associated study on child abuse as well as a reference work to others who intend to replicate this study. It is hoped that this research will go a long way in helping to alleviate these problem of abuse in Ado L.G.A. of Ekiti State.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
the study examine Christian ethical view on child abuse, the study will cover five Pentecostal churches in ———— local government area of Ekit State
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Child Abuse: The term child abuse is any form of physical, emotional and sexual maltreatment or lack or care that causes injury or emotional damage to a child or youth.
Maltreat: This mean to treat somebody cruelly or roughly. To maltreat also mean to treat somebody in unfair manners.
Child: According to United Nations convention on the right of a child, “a child is any person under the age of eighteen”.
Abuse: The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defined it as “wrong or excessive use of something to take advantages of one’s power or position, to treat a person or animal badly or violently, cruel treatment of a person, an unfair or illegal practice”.
Child Abuse: According to UNICEF (2000) child abuse can be defined as “the portion of harm to children that results from human action”.
Child Labour: According to the World Book Encyclopedia (2002), child labour is the employment of children wage earners and they are often deprived of the chance to attend school.
Social Status: Level of interaction among the market women.
Nature of Trade: Type of goods being sold.
Emotional Abuse: This is the failure of the parents or another caretaker to provide emotionally stable environment in which the child may develop a sound character.