Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
The Creative Director of Sweetest Kiddies’ Empire, Mrs Nikita Ogban, has raised the alarm over the increasing rate of rape cases on children in Ebonyi State.
Ogban, whose organization is at the moment counselling and rehabilitating some children, who have been raped, said that already, she had handled more than 25 cases in Abakaliki, the state capital, since she started her campaign this year.
She blamed parents especially mothers of being careless about their children’s protection. The rapists who she said were mostly the relatives of their victims, according to her findings, gain their victims’ trusts by first of all buying them gifts on regular basis.
She was, however, hopeful that the ugly trend could be stopped or reduced to near-zero rate if the government, churches, schools, and most importantly, parents start now to take positive actions in that regard. Excerpts:
What is Sweetest Kiddies’ Sanctuary about? What do you do there?
I only venture into anything when I hear clearly from God. If I don’t hear, I don’t do it. It was early this year that I started having too much disturbance in my spirit about abuse on children. And then all of a sudden it became so rampant in the social media and in real life. And then I had to talk to my husband about it. I told him what God was saying and I have heard the name clearly; Sweetest Kiddies’ Sanctuary. He asked me what it was all about and I told him. Before I decided to talk to my husband about it after I have heard from God, I went into research. World over, everybody agrees with the data the UNICEF gives when it comes to children. I went online and saw that documented evidence by UNICEF have shown that one out of every four girls has been sexually abused. Then, one out of every 10 boys has been sexually abused. I know that this is an abnormally that needs to be taken care of. So, I told my husband about it. I decided to go to schools and the churches, started inviting me to talk about it. Kiddies’ Sanctuary has to do with the sexual abuse kids are passing through. I have had a client whom I counselled. She was sexually abused at the age of four by her own father’s brother. From the age of four, he sexually abused her till she clocked 11 years. And I am just getting to counsel her at the age of 12. So, this is an uncle that sexually abused a child of four years. He didn’t care about the damage that would do to that child psychologically and emotionally. So, how the patents got to know was that at some point, she started telling her younger ones, the boys, to start touching her private part. So, it was one of those days that they caught her. So, upon interrogation, she opened up. When they asked the uncle, he did not deny it neither did he say anything. But as adults they confirmed that he did that to the child. They now went further to the hospital and they realized that after medical examinations, the result showed that the girl had been sexually abused for a long time. So, Sweetest Kiddies’ Sanctuary counsels kids who have been sexually, verbally or domestically abused. So, we try to counsel the kids. We discovered that at some points, these kids tend to hate themselves after a while. Before the point of hating themselves, they start at a very young age to get involved in sexual activities. I have had a child I counselled. The guardian who the parents gave the child to stay with here in Abakaliki; a child of 14 years started seeing her period and was experiencing pains. This guardian is an adult we all know that knows the best way to treat this child’s condition. But he told the child that the only way the menstrual pains would stop was if he, the guardian, starts having sexual intercourse with the child. And from the age of 14, the guardian started having sexual intercourse with her. This happened very recently here in Abakaliki. We know he knew what he was doing; that cannot cure the child’s menstrual pain. He was just taking undue advantage of that child. And, of course, in the media, I know you people have come across lots of things like that, but people don’t know. They think it’s just one Nigerian movie.
What have been your findings here in Abakaliki since you started?
My finding is that parents, in this case I will say mothers, are being careless. We know that there are lots of things parents are just trying to do to make ends meet, but they are just being too careless. They are not paying attention because as a mother, two of your kids are having sexual intercourse, you are the adult. You should know. One or two things should make you pay attention. Now, the problem we are having with teenagers that are sexually abused is that parents are becoming too trusting. There was a teenager that was sexually abused by their driver. Parents are becoming too trusting of the people that are taking care of their children. They should ask questions. Your child wants to tell you something, no matter the nonsense, if you don’t listen to them, they won’t tell you the sense when the time comes. Like the case of one of my clients that I am handling now. How can somebody be buying something for your child constantly; every single day he is buying something for your female child. While we were interacting, she said that she had been trying to tell mummy about it, but the mother never gave her attention because she was busy. Our kids now have phones. I have heard of a child who, at the age of 12, was addicted to pornography. And that resulted in him starting to experiment it on his own sister.
From when you started to this moment, how many cases have you handled?
I have handled more than 25 cases. I have the testimony of one of my clients at the back of that flyer. I have handled more than 25 cases of sexually abused children. I got to a church (name withheld); doctors, medical personnel and lawyers in that church lamented that the cases have started coming to them too much. So, they had to tell the church that it needed to address this. So, during the children’s week; that week of May 27, the church decided to use 30 minutes for that to be addressed and for awareness be created. And the cases they mentioned were much.