Immanuel James: Addressing the Issue of the Rape of Little Nigerian Boys
From a recent hint on Facebook about my rape as a child came two major revelations. First, many boys are being raped by trusted aunts and female guardians. The male-child left with adult females receives, at best, only occasional glances. Second, such casual supervision mostly ignores male relatives and guardians, letting closet homosexuals damage a lot of boys.
And a number of men often fall short of celebrating their own rape by said female violators. On that Facebook thread, many openly shared their stories, but only when their abusers were female. While sharing, some felt special to have been coveted at infancy by adult women, dismissing claims of victimhood as mere threatrics.
“I enjoyed it and wanted more. Again and again. Guys can’t now pretend like they didn’t enjoy it then!” said one commenter. His comment was greeted with several laughter emojis and celebratory GIFs.
Interactions on that thread showed the level of ignorance on rape. Many think rape has to be forceful to be so termed, otherwise it is consensual sex. A minor is legally incapable of giving consent, and sex between an adult and such a minor is called “statutory rape.”
Those abused by adult males confided in me in private messages. Homosexual child abuse meant psychological trauma and stigma, deemed unworthy of the victim pride accorded its heterosexual equivalent.
“When I was 6, my young uncle made me suck his manhood and swallow his cum for three years. He was fond of me and took care that I was happy. No one suspected him. His friend later got involved and I would suck him too. I was messed up!” said another of my private interlocutors.
To unravel why male rape is treated with levity, one can look to sociology. Men have held station as prime seekers and buyers of sex, with women portrayed as the kind party who merely come to help. Given such gender innocence, female abusers chuckle their way through the crime. The illusion of charity sex then converts offense to benefaction, with male victims grateful for the “alms”.
Others are totally indifferent and not grateful—which is no less unfortunate. For over 30 years, I lived with my own experience without any sense of aggravation, until I read that it might be responsible for certain attitudes to sex which I had developed. A publication of the American Psychological Association lists psychological disorders, depression, learning disorders, etc., as short and long-term effects of child sexual abuse. Other sources cite thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, and some sexual fetishes as also possible results. A far worse effect is children contracting STDs.
My abusers, our neighbor’s teenage daughters, loved me enough to earn Mum’s trust, pampering me and taking me wherever they went. Because my school was close to theirs, they helped Mum drop me off on their way. We would return home together in the afternoons, and I would stay in their house awaiting Mum to return from her business. It was a convenient benevolence that helped her devote time to livelihood and other domestic pursuits.
The older of the sisters, probably 18, loved bathing me. Her sponge would wander all over my body to settle on my penis, stroking it till it stood. She would take me into the house where her sister was often waiting naked. They would make me suck their breasts and have sex with them, giggling while at it. I never forgot the feral scents of sweat and sex that rent the air. For over three years they kept at it. I was 5.
At 7, another of my several inbox confidants was made to perform oral sex on a family friend, a 20-year-old male who also was fond of him. He grew on it and “came to like it”, such that, when his abuser left him, he was miserable. He is gay and treats the ordeal with a mix of irritation and acceptance.
Yet some men on that thread confessed irritation and depression, bemoaning the lack of advocacy to protect the male child from rape. A friend who works in a radio station raised the conversation on air, and an NGO initiated a campaign. Some volunteers created support and intervention groups on social media. More victims came forward and soon a symposium that didn’t finally happen was in the works. The momentum quietly went away.
In a highly capitalist era where parents are too busy to keep a tab on kids, the incidence of statutory rape has been rising. Most cases are unreported, especially with boys who, erroneously, are hardly considered vulnerable. And with the occasional vigilance on boys beamed on likely female violators, male predators find convenience, more so given society’s denial of homosexuality.
As usual, Africa is leading the global chart of sexual abuse on children, recording a prevalence rate of 20.2% for girls and 19.3% for boys in a 2011 survey. Its prevalence gap between boys and girls is the closest in the world, where regions like US/Canada recorded 20.1% for girls and 8% for boys in same study. A gap of 20.2% for girls and 19.3% for boys shows that both sexes deserve about the same measure of parental vigilance. As crises in many parts of the continent in the past years worsen the risk factors, the figures may have tipped over.
While a few official reports abound on girl-child sexual abuse in Nigeria, such are lacking on boys. The closest report, first of its kind in West Africa, was conducted in 2015 by UNICEF, in collaboration with the National Population Commission, focusing rather comprehensively on “violence against children”. Its incidental finding notes that “one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence.” Yet, silence and secrecy undermine reliance on statistics.
All the same, concern should be raised for parents to watch their boys, if only to shield them from STDs and psychological problems. In protecting our girls from rape and other forms of sexual abuse, we should also save the boys who may become the men in their lives tomorrow. UNICEF reports that sexually abused children are “significantly more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence.”
Photo Credit: © Riccardo Lennart Niels Mayer | Dreamstime