By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
A women support group, the Abuja Moms, has staged an awareness walk in the Federal Capital Territory against child molestation as part of the activities to herald the UN Women’s International Day.
Its leader, Mrs Happiness Ani, said that people rarely talk about child molestation, although it is a threat to the society.
Ani, who created Abuja Moms in 2017, said many victims find it difficult to recover from stigmatisation and failure to get closure from their abuser.
While confessing that she was molested at the age of 10, she also revealed that many Abuja Moms suffered same fate as children and are haunted by the experience.
Ani said she only got closure when she spoke on the Abuja platform that has over 32, 000 members and met other molested women, who are seeking closure and trying to help the next generation.
“Child molestation is an indecent activity between an adult and a child under the age of 18. It can come in the form of “sexual assault” (inappropriate touching of a child’s body or forcing a child into playing sexual games and having sexual intercourse).
“It also involves “sexual exploitation” (making a child view sexual acts or exposing an adult’s genitals to a child). The other form is “sexual grooming” (using a child in making pornography),” Ani explained.
She lamented that often when parents report this abuse to law enforcement agents, they are advised not to discuss the matter so that the child will not be put into shame or stigmatised by the society.
She stressed that the group exists to ensure that pedophiles are brought to book and the victims get a closure.
The Abuja moms also appealed to the authority to uphold the Part 111 of the Child Rights Act adopted by Nigeria in 2003, which prohibits every form of sexual intercourse, sexual abuse and exploitation with a child.
The group also said the public has an obligation to report every case of child molestation regardless of who is involved.
Ani advised parents to be close to their children, adding a parent should be sensitive and realise that when a child is complaining about an adult, there is a possibility that adult is molesting the child.
“We are against child molestation and pedophiles should know that as mothers we are watching. We will follow up any case that we find out in the FCT and come together to ensure that the perpetrator is prosecuted.
“We say no to child molestation and call on the authorities to take this seriously. We want to sensitise the country that it is better to get judgement than for the child to be stigmatized for the rest of her life,” Ani stressed.
She said that 80 per cent of the act is committed by people familiar with the victims including clerics, whom the children are sent to learn more about God.