It was with enormous pain and shock that I read a caption on social media, indicating that some individuals are advocating for the inclusion of paedophilia as a sexual orientation. The implication of this is, when people are asked in public to identify which set of people sexually attracts them; they can confidently say – children. In recent times, some people in the western world, who are believed to be the top agents of the devil on earth are advocating that people should be allowed to adopt every kind of nonsense as what attracts them sexually; as they have the right as humans to practically obey anything that comes to their brain and the public must accept them as such, no matter what. These advocates believe that water doesn’t sour for no reason and thus, strongly hinge their argument on their perception that the direction of sexual desire is not a choice and individuals are born with it.
The lockdown imposed to curtail the spread of the covid-19 pandemic showed the emergence of distinct challenges and different sets of heroes. One of such challenges was the increase in number of rape cases and the heroes are the activists on the field, fighting to reduce the rising incidence of rape. Some of such heroes act on individual basis, while some under non-governmental organisations. These organisations are active in different parts of the country, ranging from Babajo Foundation and The Village Debbo Care Initiative (VD Care) in Kaduna to Mirabel Centre and CLEEN Foundation in Lagos. The concerted efforts of these individuals and groups have directed public attention to the crisis, encourage victims to speak out and lead to the prosecution of many perpetrators. Thus, instilling fear in the minds of perpetrators, both old and intending ones.
In Nigeria, a link exists between rape and indecent dressing, but the link is weak as it is not always the case. According to different reports from public and private organisations, between 65 to 90% of rape cases involve children below the age of 13. Most, if not all of these children have not developed sexual structures that will attract an invader, if exposed. The persistently high and rising number of children being raped calls for urgent action. Firstly, a serious punishment must be enacted by state and federal legislators, and the laws adequately enforced by security agencies. Castration should be adopted as the least punishment for rapists; for if your mouth is a knife, let it cut your tongue. Secondly, efforts must be made to identify what motivates perpetrators to commit the crime. After every foolish deed comes remorse, and accusing fingers pointed to the devil; this has been the excuse offered by most perpetrators of child rape. Some also give explanations that connote the involvement of some sort of demonic ritual activities; usually as ritual sacrifice to make money. The individuals behind such ritual activities must be reached and made to understand the consequences of their actions. The security agencies may consider treating the anchors of such ritual activities as culprits in the crime.
The most complicated scenario is the perpetrator who does not know why he committed the offence, but rather puts the blames on the devil. This will be better comprehended with the story of a 60-year-old man who has raped too many females to remember their number within a span of more than 20 years. His victims are mainly children less than 7-year-old. He claimed the devil influenced him to attack the victims. This chronic demonic addiction suggests the involvement of the upper nervous centre (that is the brain) in the actions of such rapists who are paedophiles. This act of child rape is taking the form of a heavy rain that recognises no family or friend, but drenches everyone equally. This is expected to bring paedophilia to spotlight in Nigeria and hopefully, stimulates thorough research attention on its demography and phenomenon. Paedophilia is a mental disorder in which an adult is mainly or only sexually attracted to children, who are yet to attain puberty; usually under the age of 14. Just like the adult male can get sexually aroused on seeing or thinking of an adult female; the paedophiles get sexually stimulated, fantasised and motivated by physiological activation of relevant internal cues on seeing or thinking of children. The disorder is influenced by many factors, including: attitudes, opportunity, mood and availability of victims.
To end this crisis, the use of ‘knife’ on the perpetrators should not be the only solution; we must consider benefiting from the adhesive functions of the sewing needle, especially as some paedophiles are parents to their potential victims. Paedophiles are fully aware of the humiliating implication of their actions when arrested, but still succumb to the urge. Also, considering the negative impact of paedophilia on the lives of victims, including: damage to reproductive tract causing recto-vaginal fistula, infection with sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and hepatitis and psychological depression that may affect their entire lives, especially learning; it is important that a sufferer of paedophilia, or paedophilic symptoms, finds a support system. This may involve a mature confidant, who the paedophile can talk to about his or her ongoing struggles; and should be someone, who can restrain the paedophile when the paedophilic symptoms become significantly too difficult to control.
This system may also include an appropriate therapy group, or support group, where they can learn more about their struggles, and learn from others facing similar challenges. The system can easily be adopted in hospitals within Nigeria by utilising the existing system that provides support for HIV/AID patients. Since our societies are extremely religious, religious leaders can also key into this system and provide counseling to paedophiles. At the family level, parents that have adults, who have made attempt to attack children must be made to go for counseling.
In severely affected states, special counseling and treatment centres should be created to manage patients with paedophilia. Even with treatment, most of them are never completely cured of the sexual urge towards children. However, counseling therapy can help them reduce their sexual urge, and live a life free of acting on inappropriate sexual urges. Paedophiles must know that the urge should never be translated to action; for being tempted is different from action. They must vow never to cause emotional and physical damage to children by never acting on their urge; consistently work towards decreasing the urge and refuse to fantasise about children by refocusing their thoughts to other topics. According to a study in the U.S., only 7% of paedophiles identified themselves as having an exclusive attraction to children. The vast majority of participants (93%), experienced sexual attraction to both children and adults. Thus, most paedophiles could redirect their sexual energy on healthy sexual behaviors by having a satisfying sexual life through a committed marriage to help quell the evil sexual attraction to our tender future leaders.
Dr. Habibu is a lecturer with Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org