Child sexual abuse is a form of molestation in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has said.
Speaking during the end of the 16 Days of Activism, a programme globally designed by the United Nations to address violence against women and the girl child, Coordinator of the NGO, Amb. Jane Egbo, said sexual abuse can be seen in engaging in sexual activities with a child, indecent exposure, child grooming, and child sexual exploitation, including using a child to produce child pornography.
The NGO known as Paradise Mission for Widows and Teenage Girls, with its headquarters in Nigeria’s north central Plateau State, posited that Children are blessings from God, so they need to be loved, guided, and protected by all, adding that unfortunately, in today’s society, parents, guardians, and caregivers who are charged with the responsibility of protecting children hardly have time for them, which makes the under-aged vulnerable to harmful experiences.
Egbo said these assaults are usually targeted at children who are aged 15 years and below, innocent and vulnerable, such children are violated sexually by neighbours, relatives, school teachers, and sometimes strangers who take undue advantage of them.
She said the media as change agents are also critical both in terms of how violence against women and girls are reported, and how communities and governments are supported to raise awareness and implement programmes to end violence against women and girls.
“It is important to highlight that everyone in society has an important role to play in ending violence against women and girls and we all must work together across sectors to address the various aspects of violence against women and girls,” Egbo said.
Also at the seminar, a guest speaker, FIDA former Vice Chairperson, Plateau State, Barr. Christie Ezekwem, said there is usually a culture of silence when it comes to child sexual abuse due to fear of stigmatisation, positing that stakeholders need to keep up with the sensitization to encourage victims to speak out.
“We need to make people aware of this issue of sexual violence, especially against the girl child, so that they can take necessary precautions”, Ezekwem said.
Our correspondent reports that UNICEF had in 2015 reported that one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.
According to the UN child rights agency, this year saw an alarming four-fold increase in multiple forms of violence against women and girls.
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international Campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, our Correspondent reports.