In July, I came across a tweet: “An 8-year-old boy confessed to his female teacher molesting him. In his words, ‘ona sim lachaa ike ya, n’emetu aka ya n’ikem.’ I’m still shocked.” (Translation: She asked me to lick her private part and fondles my privates)
I was not shocked. I have a beloved friend whose first sexual experience was at the hands of an “aunty” and I was already pretty certain he was not the only one.
My suspicions were confirmed when I proofread an article for a friend recently. He stated that “one in six boys born between 1974 and 1983 had their first sexual experience with a usually older domestic female servant, popularly called ‘house-girl’ before the age of ten.” He then went on to explain that this still goes on today. I was inclined to agree with him, and I believe it’s not just housemaids or biological aunts. Elevating random women to “aunty” status has the same effect that calling random males “uncle” has. It breeds trust, affection and makes the child comfortable enough to be groomed as prey.
When I shared my sabinews article, “No, My Daughter, He is Not Your Uncle” on Twitter, responses began to trickle in, the first of which urged parents to note that the boy-child was also at risk. I responded by endorsing the tweet with one of my own, pointing out that child sexual abuse is not restricted to the girl-child.
Before I could blink, messages flooded my DM inbox and email. In the midst of messages from ladies wanting to unburden, there was one from a guy, telling me that he knew many guys who had been abused by older women at a tender age, though most of them would not admit it. He also said that he had himself been molested by an older woman at the age of 7.
Again I was not shocked, but as the mother of a precious little boy, my heart was heavy. The truth is that every child deserves to be protected. Regardless of whether your child is a boy or a girl, close relationships with older children, and adults, should be strictly monitored if not discouraged outright. We must be careful when it comes to our children being alone with other people.
It may sound like I’m encouraging paranoia. After all, parents have to go to work and attend to other activities, and as such cannot watch over a child 24/7. I agree that a parent’s eyes cannot be everywhere, but when it comes to child sexual abuse I believe there is nothing like being “over-suspicious” or “paranoid”. I believe that we can never be too careful. Whatever we think it will cost us, the truth is that the price of abuse is higher – for the child and the parent.
Children, male and female, should be taught to identify their private parts from the time they can talk. NOBODY is allowed to touch them there except a caregiver taking the toddlers to the loo. They should know what constitutes appropriate touch (cleaning up, bathing, etc) and inappropriate touch (caresses and other “don’t tell mummy and daddy” touches.) Open conversations with parents should be encouraged.
I have a girlfriend who, as a child, had her sexuality prematurely awakened when two “aunties” drew her close and made her suck their breasts every other day. We grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. You don’t want to imagine how many years it took to get their moans out of her head. And you don’t want to imagine what “aunties” are doing these days.
Can we really be too careful? And if we as parents are paranoid, can anyone really blame us?
(The image used is for illustration – Editor)