A member of the Gombe State Child Protection Network, Kishimi Shelter and Care Foundation, has called on parents and guardians to forge close ties with their children and wards in order to gain their trust enough for the children to report any violations to them.
Speaking with Voice of Nigeria in Gombe, Mrs Grace Samuel, the Executive Director and founder of the foundation, said it would be rewarding for parents to teach their children to open up and report anyone who tries to take advantage of them to prevent a reoccurrence and to also prevent perpetrators from walking free.
“I will want to encourage mothers out there to look at this as a very serious matter and to be familiar with their children. Let them become friends of their children because if I am a friend to my child, whatever is happening, they will report,” said Mrs Samuel.
She condemned the care-free attitude of some parents noting that this leaves the children at the mercy of the perpetrators because of the threats attached to such crimes by the perpetrators, who warn their victims of the consequences of reporting the incidence.
“So, but if we are a bit more careful, probably we’ll be able to help these children more,” Mrs Samuel said.
The Child Protection Counsellor lamented that in most cases where such sexual violence occurs, the mothers were helpless and could do nothing to prevent it.
“As a mother, my take is, keep talking about it. For me, I will stand for my child anytime, any day. If it means ending the marriage, why not, to defend my child!” Mrs Samuel said.
According to her, because of such repercussions and the fact that mothers are not financially independent, they would rather choose to stay silent and watch their own children of wards suffer in silence.
“Cases of rape in the state has been on the increase because the victims are not allowed to report their case since the perpetrators are either close relatives of renowned people in the society,” she noted.
She also said it was rather unfortunate that parents were the ones in some instances exposing their children to such dangers, through acts like hawking, lone Shepherds in the bush, all in the name of getting food on the table.
“They send them to hawk. Somebody will lure the child, buy off the goods and then take the child to a corner. And then when they come back home, they can’t even talk about it,” Mrs Samuel added.
She said when such cases were reported, the culprit was often allowed to go free, thereby giving him the opportunity to carry out the act again to the detriment of the victim.
According to her, if victims are made to open up to someone, they would be able to heal, because the victims are often threatened not to tell or they would die.
Mrs Samuel said most rape cases in Gombe State were not being reported, because of fear of stigma, choosing rather protect the family name, thereby leaving the victim to suffer in silence.
She, therefore, said there was the need for more awareness to be created in the society because as it were in the state, people still found it difficult to report such cases.
The Kishimi Shelter and Care Foundation is a non-governmental organisation in Gombe State set up to promote child protection as well as advocate for the poor, weak and needy, as well as improve their quality of living.