Rape in Africa
I’ve just finished reading Gypsy Boy – an autobiographical
work by Mikey Walsh where he documents harrowing childhood experiences.
In this vivid and moving account of his formative years as a
Romany gypsy, he describes the sexual abuse he suffered at six years old when
he was repeatedly raped by his own uncle.
Reading such a book reawakened my anger about sexual abuse
in Africa, in particular my country Nigeria.
Rape itself is not an African problem; it is a human menace.
However, in Africa, the perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

Families are all too interested in protecting themselves
from shame, leaving the victims to deal with the trauma or, worse, blaming them
for their misfortune.
I cannot but admire Mikey Walsh’s openness.
Though he uses a pseudonym and hides his face in
photographs, every interview carries the risk of exposing him to members of his
former community. For any society, there are valuable lessons to be learnt from
his book.
child pornography is making its way into the African
Not too long ago, a very bright friend of mine attempted
suicide in an Abuja hotel room.
Months before, I had made an appointment for him with a
psychologist but he didn’t attend. It was too hard, he said, too complex to
talk about all that personal stuff to a stranger.
“That personal stuff” has to do with his aunt
forcing him to perform oral sex on her when he was six years old, even bringing
her friends round, until another family member walked in on them.
It is only in areas of conflict that victims discuss their
ordeal, perhaps because employing rape and sexual terrorism as a key tool in
thwarting the enemy does not come as a surprise.
But Africa has not deemed it necessary to protect its women
or its children. In Africa, generation after generation, the same mistakes are
repeated because we prefer to plaster over these atrocities or justify them
with unhelpful traditional beliefs.
A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me a link via
Black-Berry messenger that promised to make me “weep for Nigeria”.
The link took me to a video of a four-year-old boy having
sex with a 13-year-old girl.
I made up my mind not to watch it, but scrolled down to the
The Jesus Brigade were quick to ascribe the behaviour of the
children to demons and satanic influences.
The chauvinists blamed the mothers who were too busy chasing
careers to watch over their children.
A handful of people called for the girl’s head, saying she
was corrupting the young boy with her “sexpertise”.
Only once did someone demonstrate an understanding of the
real problem: child pornography is making its way into the African landscape
where it is unlikely to be checked or investigated by the police.
This web of silence that allows child abuse and pornography
to continue indicts those in authority.
If not their consciences then perhaps the future will hold
them accountable. When is Africa going to have the courage to stand up and say


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