As the Vatican comes under harsh criticism and hard questioning from the UN regarding evidence and confessions by priests of sexually abusing countless children in their care, arrests of ‘Cyber Den’ operators are also being made in the Philippines and the United Kingdom for the very same crime, only via webcam. From acts spanning decades in the confines of the Catholic church, to the new surge on the internet, child abuse is a problem that perhaps is not gaining more momentum in terms of its prevalence but in its rate of reporting.
Children, now grown into adults are finding their voice and coming out. Giving evidence of that which will no doubt have haunted them for years. The recent spate of accusations against celebrities in the UK is testament to this.
The internet has undoubtedly provided an easier channel for perpetrators of these acts. Paedophiles are paying to watch the abuse of children in the Philippines via webcams, a BBC investigation has found. In one case, a British man organized the sexual abuse of five children from the same family. Charities believe tens of thousands of children are victims of the trade. Families see this as a way out of poverty. Easy money as it were.
But where does this leave us Nigerians. As Nigeria’s crime investigation units are not as sophisticated as others around the world it is worth considering the extent to how secure our children really are without the threats of checks and balances. I remember the video that went viral a couple of years ago through BBM of Nigerian kids being filmed performing sex acts on each other. Anyone with an internet connection and a webcam can ply this dangerous and demeaning route making it very difficult to cull. With the popularity, shear scale and strength of the churches in Nigeria, it is again worth considering how we can deter such occurrences not just in our religious places of worship but in all sectors of society.
The very nature of our society where children are left in a dependency cycle, generally means children are potentially being abused by people they know and trust. But do we change or abandon the support systems we have come to rely on and isolate our children? in other words, how far are we as parents ready to go? Parents need to be very conscious of the reality of not so uncommon sexual abuse that goes on in our community and must sensitize children to the fact that it is never right. Thankfully, there are projects like the Global Livings Rape Prevention for 1000 children who are trying to emphasize the importance of knowing the signs and how to deal with. Untill we end the silence with real commitment and serious consequences for perpetrators regardless of social standing, our children remain largely at risk.