Last week, I was privy to a discussion about sexual relations between secondary school students and teachers. One of the guys had mentioned that during his NYSC days, he had been posted to a school in Northern Nigeria. He recounted those days and talked of how he usually had sexual relations with the students. He had a roster for them. As he kept on the narration, someone asked how old these students were, were they above the age of consent? He retorted that in Northern Nigeria, the students were usually as old as 18 or 19. He added that some of the girls even taught him some moves.
This did not go down well with majority of people on the group and they descended on him in outrage. Did he realize that was child abuse? Everyone who had a child or a ward said he was very wrong. I was particularly concerned about the blasé tone; especially when he mentioned that the girls were old enough and quite experienced. I wanted to know if the sex was given in exchange for marks or other favours.
That discussion did not end well. However, it gave rise to a lot of issues which are prevalent in Nigeria. One of such issues is the question of whether abuse is still deemed as abuse if the victim ‘enjoys’ it. For instance, one of the guys on the group mentioned that he was sexually abused by his housemaid when he was a young teenager. He, however, doesn’t think he can appropriately call it abuse because at that age he was sexually curious and the house maid was hot. In a way, she had satisfied his sexual curiosity; it was only with the maturity did he realize that what the girl did was actually abuse. We asked him how he would react if his son, is touched by the help. He said his reaction would be dependent on whether the help was a man or a woman.
I opined that the issue of abuse and the reaction to it varied according to gender because one gender takes the role of ‘The Poker’ and the other takes the role of ‘The Receptacle’. Somehow or the other, that goes a long way in affecting how a person reacts to abuse, especially as abuse is a very serious issue. It is an issue that is grossly underrated, especially as some abusers don’t believe they are guilty.
There is also the question of fiduciary duty. Where there is a responsibility bestowed as a result of a fiduciary relationship, there is an expectation that sexual relations of any type is deemed as abuse. For instance, if your priest – whom you confess your sins to – propositions you, there’s a psychological burden that is placed on you. Consciously or unconsciously, there is a question of wanting to please. It’s the same with a parent, lawyer or even your teacher.
It has been argued that reaction to abuse varies, depending on gender or the age at which the abuse takes place. Do you think that abuse is not abuse if it’s a teenage boy who is touched by a woman, and only becomes abuse when he is touched by a man. Do you think that a teacher-student (secondary school) is abuse? What are your thoughts on sexual relations between a priest and a congregant? Is it still sexual abuse if a sexually aware 15 year old is being fondled by a 28 year old woman? Would the dynamics remain the same if a 28 year old man is doing the fondling?
In my view, it is definitely still abuse!
Photo Credit: breakingfree.net