Implications of Silence in the Face of Child Sexual Abuse: Observations from Yenagoa, Nigeria

Ikenna D. Ebuenyi, Uzoechi E. Chikezie, Gerald O. Dariah

Abstract

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is common globally but underreported. It has far-reaching physical, social, and mental health effects and often the victims suffer in silence because of the shame and stigma associated with the experience. Despite international and country specific legislation to protect children and punish offenders, CSA thrives and sometimes leads to the death of victims. We report two cases of children aged 7 and 8 who presented at Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital Bayelsa, Nigeria. In both cases, the offender was known to the victim’s parents who did not only refuse to report the cases to law enforcement agents but also discontinued medical follow-up for the children. These cases highlight that in cases of CSA, parents and families often prefer silence rather than confronting offenders or reporting incidents to law enforcement agencies. This choice of inaction only promotes the ill. It is essential that laws and regulations meant to protect children locally and internationally are implemented to end the scourge of CSA and its many effects. (Afr J Reprod Health 2018; 22[2]: 83-87).

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