I’ve noticed that sexual abuse amongst children in Ghana is very prevalent, yet what is saddening about this issue is that little or no attention is given to it. This unfortunate situation is not new, since I have a lot of friends who went through. It is just one of the many issues that have been swept under the rug, for what reason I cannot understand.
Whilst chatting with one of my male friends, I discovered that his first sexual encounter was at the age 7, with the house help. I was even more surprised that he did not consider it as a form of abuse. He told me that it was not uncommon amongst his circle of friends to have been taught sexual practices at very tender ages by either relatives or house helps. I spoke to a few other people to ascertain the truth and this is what they had to say:
“I remember when I was about 8 years old; the house help would put her hand in my private part anytime we were alone. She warned me not to tell anybody”
“I was molested by a close relative who I used to call Uncle when I was a child. He made me do certain things I don’t want to talk about now”.
“I was molested by an older cousin who was staying with us. And he warned me never to tell anyone”
From what I discovered, child sexual abuse could take many forms. It was also not limited to any gender. Both young girls and boys suffered various forms of abuse from adults who were supposed to care and protect them.
Upon further probing, I found out that most of these victims were scared to open up to their parents about the experiences. They believed that either their parents were not going to believe them, or they would end up receiving beatings rather. This fact is not surprising because in the Ghanaian society children are always taken for granted because we believe that children do not know much. It is also glaringly obvious that most parents did not have an open relationship with their children.
At the end of the day, most of these children had to keep it to themselves and this have had a lot of effects on their on their sexual and emotional lives. Can you imagine a guy friend telling me, he had always thought that the only purpose of having a woman was to have sex with her? This is because right from childhood he had been experimenting with sex so he did not have any value for it.
Sexual abuse can also steal the confidence and self-esteem from a child. I believe that childhood is a magical and precious period for any person, and it is during this period that certain characters are built. No one deserves to have their childhood stolen from them.
Now most of us are young adults and will become parents ourselves if not already. It is important to be as open as possible with your children. Encourage them to recount their daily activities to you. Teach them a little bit of sex education—it won’t kill or spoil them. Alert them that under no circumstance should any adult aside you request to see their private parts and incase it happens they should immediately report to you. As a parent, you should do your homework very well and be careful as to the kind of people you entrust your children with.
Have you ever been abused? Do you know anyone who has been abused? How has that experience affected you? Kindly share your experiences so that we can raise more awareness about Child sexual abuse.