Sexual Abuse against Boys Prevalent, Expert Says

Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto

On this year’s International Day of the Boy-Child marked on Thursday, the Founder/Executive Director, Life After Abuse Foundation, Halima Layeni, has argued that sexual abuse against boys was prevalent.
Equally, the wife of General Officer Commanding 8 Division, and Chairperson of Nigerian Army Officer’s Wife Association (NAOWA), Mrs. Florence Godwin Mutkut, has advocated for the need to protect the boy-child from harmful societal influences.  

In a statement, Layeni, pointed out that global statistics revealed that approximately one in six boys worldwide experience some form of sexual abuse before adulthood.
“One of the most troubling aspects of this crisis is the neglect of sexual abuse against boys. Survivors frequently face scepticism and blame, with their experiences dismissed due to harmful misconceptions.

“The horrifying reality is that some believe if a boy experiences an erection during abuse, or actively participated in the act, somehow implies consent or enjoyment, perpetuating a culture of silence and shame, leaving survivors feeling isolated and invalidated.
“It is important to emphasise that abuse perpetrated against boys below the age of consent constitutes rape, regardless of whether they actively participated in the act. The age of consent varies globally but typically ranges from 16 to 18 years old. Any sexual activity with a child below the age of consent is a violation of their rights and is a criminal offence,” she added.

According to her, the long-term effect of sexual abuse on boys were profound, extending beyond immediate trauma.
“Male survivors often suffer psychological and emotional challenges, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and difficulties in forming healthy relationships. The impact of abuse can persist into adulthood, impacting self-esteem, ability to trust others, and overall well-being.
“It is clear that urgent action is needed to address this crisis and safeguard the rights of the boychild. We must advocate for policies that prioritise the well-being of boys and establish social support centres that offer specialised services exclusive to male survivors of sexual abuse. These centers would provide a nurturing environment for boys to access the care and support needed for recovery.

“It is critical to also acknowledge that women can abuse and rape boys. No survivor should be overlooked or dismissed based on the gender of their abuser and punishment for female perpetrators of abuse against boys must be enforced and taken seriously, just as it is for male perpetrators.
“All survivors deserve justice and support, regardless of the gender of their abuser. This equitable approach ensures that survivors are not further victimised by societal biases and that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, irrespective of their gender.”

She added further: “We must challenge the harmful stereotypes and attitudes that perpetuate the stigma surrounding boy-child sexual abuse. Fellow men, in particular, have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with survivors and create a culture of empathy and support. It is time to put an end to the mockery and derision faced by boys and men who speak up about their experiences as survivors of sexual abuse.

“Policy alone is not enough. Parents play a crucial role in protecting their sons from abuse by fostering open communication, teaching boundaries, and empowering them to speak up. We must also educate boys about consent, healthy relationships, and their right to bodily autonomy, empowering them to recognise and resist abuse.

“We must confront the crisis of sexual abuse against boys head-on, dismantling barriers that prevent male survivors from seeking help and speaking out. By advocating for gender-specific support services and fostering a culture of empathy and understanding, we can create a world where all boys and men receive the assistance they need to heal and thrive.

“In conclusion, achieving gender equality in access to support services for male survivors of sexual abuse is a fundamental human right. As we commemorate the International Day of the Boy Child, let us reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that all individuals, regardless of gender, receive the support and assistance they need to heal and thrive.”

In a related development, Mutkut advocated for the need to protect the boy-child from harmful societal influences.  

She recommended the domestication of the boy-child to have responsible men in society during the International Day of the Boy Child celebration held at 26, Battalion Parade ground, Giginya Barracks, Sokoto.

Mutkut disclosed that too many boys are invisible and forgotten.

“Many are equally marginalised, neglected, alienated, and left behind. That is why we need to do something for our boys before it is too late,” she noted.

She revealed further that boys’ enrollment in primary and secondary schools is on the decline while dropout is skyrocketing.

“There have been several reports on incidents that misguided the young boys to be involved in vices such as fraud, robbery, smoking, alcoholism, drug addicts, violence among others,” NAOWA chairperson said, adding that the boy-child should be given the right attention, care, guidance, and support for the boy child development and have general well-being.

She urged the society to equally focus more on the boy-child to upscale the gender gap.

According to her, for us “to have good society we must train a boy-child, our president,vice president, Senate president, Speaker of House of Representatives and the majority of our political leaders are men so if we didn’t train boy-child there is no future for this country.

“Most people in our society focus on training of girl-child , we should equally carry out advocacy for the male-child as well for healthy rivalry. We should also ensure we educate and equip them to be better boys and men in the future,” she added.

She reminded us of our collective guilt in neglecting the boy-child, which led to the spate of insecurity bedeviling the nation from all angles and in all directions.

“As we celebrate the International Day of the Boy Child this year, let us reflect on the dangers of neglecting the boy-child. Let us look towards taking definite actions to address the neglect of the boy-child.

“Let us summon the courage to end the phenomenon of street children by whatever name they are called. We should protect our boys as much as we protect our girls. World Day of the boy child celebrates all the positive elements that boys bring to their families and communities. It also sheds light on the issues and challenges that boys face as they develop.”

As part of the celebration, Mutkut with boys from NAOWA nursery and primary school and boys from Command secondary school marched from 26 Battalion Giginya Barracks to headquarters of 8 Division, where she addressed the media on the importance of the celebration.

Related Articles