The Institute of Child Health Monthly Seminar held on 7th May, 2015 with the title: Child rape in Nigeria – a societal scourge: the way forward in the 21st century. The venue was the ICH Seminar Room in Oba Akenzua Complex, University of Benin Teaching Hospital. The seminar was well attended by students
of School of Health Technology, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, students of School of Health Information Management, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, School of Midwifery, University of Benin Teaching Hospital as well as students of Medical Sciences University of Benin, Benin City, members of the public and the press (Edo Broadcasting Corporation and Bendel Newspaper Company Limited, the publishers of the Observer Newspaper).

The resource person was Prof. (Mrs.) Lucy A. Okukpon (Ph.D), a Professor of Adult Education and Lifelong Learning Faculty of Education University of Benin. She has held several positions as Head of Department, Adult Education from 2008 -2010, and Director, Centre for Distance Learning, University of Benin from 2010 to February, 2015. She is also a member of the British Association for International Comparative Education (BAICE) and the Editor of the Nigeria National Council of Adult Education
Journal (2014 till date). She is the founder Initiator of women in Education (WIE) University of Benin, a purely academic organization.

According to the resource person, child rape is a global phenomenon. It is not peculiar to Nigeria as a nation. Incidence of child rape are reported in daily National Newspapers and dominates most International news headlines. It is a societal scourge and the way forward in the 21st century is proposed and discussed in this topic. The presenter examined causes of child rape and the devastating effects it has on children.

Causes of Child Rape

  1. Poverty: The low income status of some parents and the inability to meet the basic needs of life, for example food, shelter and clothing). Their children are not protected and are exposed to all forms of danger including rape. Some children fend for themselves and live on the streets and in most cases their parents do not know where they are. Similarly, some parents live in a one room apartment where there is no privacy. This can induce child rape because while the parents are having sexual intercourse, the children are listening and watching and would want to try out what they have seen their parents doing.

  2. Anger: There is anger against the girl child and low regard for women (children inclusive). Some men see women as people beneath them and should be used and discarded with.

  3. Sexual Pleasure and Insatiable Urge for Sex: Some men see babies and the girl child as an object to satisfy their sexual pleasure. Some are always aroused when they see females (whether they are babies or young girls) and wants to satisfy their urge for sex, no matter the circumstances or situation they find themselves. They cannot control their desire for sex at all times.

  4. Sadism: This is the enjoyment that someone derives from being violent or cruel or from causing pain, especially sexual enjoyment from hurting or punishing someone, a delight in cruelty, excessive cruelty.

  5. Power: Power is the ability to influence or control the behaviour of people. Power can be seen as evil or unjust sometimes, especially when such power is used to cause pain and discomfort to others who are beneath them.

  6. Psychopathy: This is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring anti-social behavior, diminished empathy and remorse and dis-inhibited or bold behaviour as in the case of a rapist.

  7. Unethical Standards: Principles that promote bad values such as not trusting people, bad behaviour, unfairness and wickedness towards others.

Consequences of Child Rape

  1. Death may occur. Some babies and children are raped to death.

  2. Children who are raped are usually mentally and physically traumatized.

Common Emotional and Psychological effects.

  1. Post-traumatic stress disorders

  2. Flashbacks- memories of rape as it is taking place.

  3. Sleep disorders

  4. Eating disorders

  5. Guilt and fear

  6. Distrust of others

  7. Anger at the rapist (rapists) as the case may be.

10. Feeling of personal powerlessness-victims feel that the rapist robbed them of control over their bodies.

Physical Effects of Child Rape

Physical effects of child rape according to Lalumiere, Harris, Quinsey and Rice (2005) includes the following:

  1. Visible bruising or bleeding in and around the vaginal and anus areas and bruises in other parts of the body from coercive violence.

  2. Painful intercourse

  3. Urinary infection

  4. Pregnancy may result

  5. Uterine fibroids- not cancerous

  6. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDS)

  7. HIV and AIDS

Recommendations were made to eradicate or totally eliminate child rape in our country
as a nation. Among these recommendations are:

  1. Sex Education should be taught at all levels in Nigerian schools.

  2. Parents and guardians must protect their children from predators who are always on the prowl.

  3. They must monitor their children, at all times and be knowledgeable about their where about.

  4. The sanctions for rapist in Nigeria which is currently 14 years imprisonment should be reviewed

by the National Assembly so as to serve as a deterrent to others.

The presenter drew the conclusion that in the 21st century, all Nigerians must rise in the fight against child rape, so that this menace will be totally eradicated in Nigeria.

Prof Mrs L A Okukpon and Dr MRs A. E Sadoh (Ag Director ICH UNIBEN) at the seminar

Cross section of the sudience during the seminar

Written by Hope Oshodin. Edited by Dr D. U Nwaneri. Institute of Child Health, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City Nigeria

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