A rights group, the Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign, has described as frustrating the attitude of most parents whose teenage daughters are victims of sexual abuse or attempted sexual abuse.
The group described parents as the major challenge they encounter in their effort to ensure that such matters are prosecuted. According to them, most parents would abscond with their daughters, refusing to show up during trial for fear that something unpleasant could happen to the minor as a result of the case.
They posited that the refusal of parents to consent to the prosecution of suspects accused of enticing, luring or sexually abusing female children who are below 18 years, is contributing to the increase in cases of sexual abuse of minors and adults.
National coordinator of the group, Prince Wiro, spoke with TNN shortly after a certain Mr. James went scot-free, after allegedly arresting a 17-year-old girl, in Rumuokwuta, Obio/Akpor LGA of Rivers State, for refusing his sexual advances after giving her money many times.
According to reports, the teenage girl, identified as Faith, who was arrested at Best Man Estate, in Rumuokwuta, by Kala Police Division, said “James came to arrest me in my shop, I have been cleaning his nails and each time he comes to my shop, I will clean his nails and he will tell me to keep the change. He gave me money sometimes and he never told me the reason why he was giving me these money, until when he finally told me to follow him to a hotel one day, but I refused.
“I told him I couldn’t go to a hotel with him because he is a married man. Since then he had been telling me to sleep with him, but I refused. He then decided to bring policemen to my shop to arrest me. They took me to the station and asked me to write a statement on how it happened and I wrote everything down.”
Wiro, who spoke on the matter expressed discontent with the approach of most parents. According to him, “you know, in cases like this that involves a minor, the consent and involvement of their parents to execute such cases is very essential. So, our challenge is that after we secured the unconditional release of the girl, after the DPO heard from the girl and the man, we were actually pressing that the man should be charged for enticing and luring a minor which is a crime under the Child’s Rights Act, but the parents are of different view,
parents are of different view, that they want the matter to end like that, and the man should just stop harassing her. So, as it stands, we cannot do much since the parents of the girl are not actually interested in the prosecution of the man; so that is our challenge now.
“What some parents do, even when the police charge these matters to court in cases like these, most times you see the parents absconding with their children, they will refuse to show up during trial which ultimately will frustrate the case in court.
“In cases like this, the principal witness must come which is the girl in this case, must come to testify that this is actually what happened, and in a situation where the principal witness is not coming forth, definitely even the case will be frustrated, so, we don’t want to waste our time since the parents are not actually interested, but in a saner society, the attorney general of the particular state can even wade in and ensure that the matter is charged to court and also ensure that during trial they do everything possible within the law to ensure the parents provides the child during trial, or if possible, they can even take the underage child to children’s home to ensure that during trial she comes from the children home so that she can testify, giving her good protection.
“The law is clear, a girl or a boy below the age of 18 does not have right of giving consent in a sexual relationship; that is why in cases like this, the law recognizes that it’s an offense for an adult to lure a minor to have sex with the minor, so whether the man was dashing the girl money for purpose in exchange for sex or not, the man has committed offense by luring a minor for sex that is the position of the law.”
Wiro advised that “children and adults should mind the way they receive gift from men, even when the person tends to do it voluntarily because there are some men that can go as far as even arranging for the girl in the case of underage, to be defiled, then if it is an adult, to be raped when he feels that after spending his money he didn’t get what he wants from the person, especially in the case of adult female, an adult female can give consent, but a girl below 18 years cannot give consent.
“So girls need to really be careful, the way they receive gifts because some people do not just give that gift without expecting something in return. We tried our best but since the parent is not interested there is nothing we could do, because we need actually the cooperation of the parents to ensure that the man is prosecuted but since the parents are not cooperating, we cannot cry more than the bereaved.”