SEXUAL VIOLATIONS OF THE BOY AND GIRL CHILD BY ADULTS IN NIGERIA- A KEY NOTE ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL AGENCY FIR THE PROHIBITION OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (NAPTIP) DAME JULIE OKAH-DONLI ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2019 HUMAN RIGHTS LECTURE, ORGANIZED BY HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION (HURIWA) HELD AT CHELSEA HOTEL, ABUJA, ON THURSDAY, 15TH AUGUST, 2019
I am highly delighted to address this great gathering of human rights defenders at this auspicious occasion of the 2019 Human Rights Lecture organized by HURIWA. This assemblage of eminent journalist, is an attestation of the willingness and commitment of your association and other stakeholders to put an end to the heinous crime of rape and other sexual offences ravaging our society with its debilitating effects on our boys and girls.
- Sexual violations has assumed and alarming dimensions in Nigeria and the story has become more gloomy and worrisome in view of the current trends which involves people in a position of trust, care, guardianship and parentage to this children constantly engaged in unscrupulous and dastardly acts with them.
- Pedophiles take advantage of the vulnerable ones in our society who are in need of protection, education, accommodation, clothing, food, medical services, stipend and other basic needs of life by first demanding for sex before rendering such ‘support’ to this victims. This is very horrible and unthinkable. Sexual exploitation is one of the most dehumanizing experiences faced by victims of rape and other forms of sex-crimes.
- Forms of sexual exploitation
Forms of sexual exploitation include:
. Prostitution of others
. Indecent exposure of genital organs
. Pornography etc.
- Child Sexual Abuse in Nigeria
Child sexual abuse in Nigeria is an offence under extant legislation in the country’s criminal jurisprudence. The generally accepted age of consent is 18 years, hence sexual relations with persons who have not attained this age is a strict liability offence under the various extent laws. It is therefore not a defence for and adult offender to claim that the minor consented to sexual relations with Him/her. UNICEF reported in 2015 that one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.
- According to survey by Positive Action For Treatment Access, over31.4 percent of girls said that their first sexual encounter had been through rape or forced sex of some kind. The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development reported that 1,200 girls had been raped in 2012 in rivers state, a coastal state in southern Nigeria. According to UNICEF, six out of ten children in Nigeria experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before the age of 18, with half experiencing violence.
Patterns of Sexual Violation
- In the human trafficking perspective, sexual violation of minor occurs internally and externally. In Nigeria, many cities have brothels where resident prostitutes offer sexual services to clients. Under age children have been found and rescued by NAPTIP from brothels where they have been subjected to prostitution.
- In many cases reported, madams and the owners of the brothels take a large portion, if not all of the earnings of the prostitution of the residents. There is also street prostitution whereby female prostitutes including minors solicit for clients on the streets.
- Child prostitution is a major manifestation if sexual violation and is also considered as human trafficking since a child does not have the capacity to make a decision to engage in commercial sexual activity.
- The use of minors for prostitution could be through:
- Soliciting For prostitution; this explains where someone lures another into prostitution either to gain pecuniary benefit, pleasure of for any other immoral reason.
- Exploitation of the prostitution of others; this entails where someone is benefiting from the prostitution of another person. For instance, a brothel keeper or a pimp who hires the underage girls; shelters them and have men come in to sleep with them while the money is payable to her (pimp).
Sexual Exploitation within Nigeria
- The pattern of sexual Exploitation that happens within Nigeria is synonymous with human trafficking. It follows the trend of rural-urban migration where the traffickers (Brothel Operators, Pimps or Madams) in the city go to rural communities in search of vulnerable young girls to recruit into commercial sex work. Deception is deployed at the recruitment phase and when they get back to the city, other elements such as coercion, use of force or fraud may surface.
Sexual Exploitation (External)
- Externally, young females are recruited and taken top Europe and other parts of the Europe by well linked international trafficking syndicates who exploit them in the sex industry. The most prominent destinations are Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Norway where some underage girls are subjected to sexual exploitation. There are also other derivatives outside Western Europe, especially West African countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire and Senegal. Other destinations include Middle East countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Arab Emirates.
- Conversely, there are reported cases of young women who are trafficked from China, the Philippines and other Asian countries for prostitution in Nigeria, while children are trafficked from other countries in Africa into Nigeria.
Sexual Violations of Boys
- It must be emphasized that the same pattern of luring or engaging girls for sexual violations is also used to recruit boys for the same purpose. We have received several reports where boys in and around Abuja were sodomized and we go to rescue them. One of the rapists has been tried by NAPTIP and the court has sentenced him to jail term. There is a high class cartel that engages in sexual exploitation of boys under the guise of placing them in football clubs and other sporting events abroad. The young boys are made to go through all ridiculous acts including sexual exploitation.
Causes of Sexual Exploitation
- Several factors are responsible for sexual exploitation and this includes:
Poor socio-economic background
Collapse of family values
Poor societal value
Demand for casual sex
Booming business of commercial sex industry
Greed of the exploiter among others
Effects of Sexual Exploitation on Children
- Sexual exploitation, just like other forms of exploitation in human trafficking has several negative consequences on the young individual victims as a person and the society in general. These are some of the risks:
Personal risks :
– It violates the human rights of the child victims
– It is degrading and dehumanizing
– It results in loss of, or deprivation of property rights
– It results in personal health risks
– Could result in death of victims
– It leads to disillusionment, low self-esteem of the Minor.
Risks to the Society:
– It fuels irregular migration
– It enhances the spread of HIV AIDS and other diseases
– It undermines human capital development potential
– It promotes prostitution which negatively affects the image of a country.
Nigeria Government’s Response to Sexual Exploitation
- Nigeria ratified the Palermo Protocol of 2000 and subsequently enacted a National legislation in 2003 prohibiting human trafficking which includes sexual exploitation. The law was amended in 2005 and re-enacted in 2015 as the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act in 2015. (TIPPEA Act 2015)
- The salient provisions of the TIPPEA Act 2015 which criminalizes sexual offences against minors include the following:
Section 15 – criminalizes the procurement of a person under the age of 17 years for sexual exploitation with a punishment on conviction to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of not less than #1,000,000
Section 16 – criminalizes the abuse, procurement, or recruitment of a person under 18 years for sexual exploitation with a punishment on conviction to 7 years imprisonment and a fine of not less than #1,000,000
Section 17 – criminalizes the procurement or recruitment of a person under 18 years for pornographic performance or use in a brothel with a punishment on conviction to 7 years imprisonment and a fine of not less than #1,000,000.
- NAPTIP is also mandated by the Express provisions of Section 44 of The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, (VAPPA) 2015,to administer the provisions of the Act which also prohibits sexual violence and exploitation.
Section 1 of the Act criminalizes the offence of Rape and carries various degrees of punishment, thus:
– Where offender is less than 14 years, the offender is liable to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment
– In all cases, to a minimum of 12 years imprisonment without an option of fine or;
– In the case of rape by a group of persons, the offenders are liable jointly to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
- The provision also mandates NAPTIP to maintain a Register of convicted sexual offenders will be launched by the vice president, in September this year.
- It is gratifying to state that NAPTIP since its inception in 2003 has secured the conviction of 403 human traffickers under the TIPPEA Act 2015 across its 9 Zonal Commands and the Headquarters and a good number of these convictions stemmed from prosecutions involving child sex exploiters/offenders.
3 convictions have been secured under the VAPPA Act 2015 which is in operation only in the FCT and more convictions are being expected from about 15 cases of Rape instituted by the Agency and pending at various Courts in the FCT.
- In addition to these laws; the following legislations also have implications for sexual exploitation.
- Child’s Rights Act of FCT and Child’s Rights Laws of the various states;
- Penal Code (of the Northern States)
- Criminal Code (of the Southern States);
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966
- International Covenant on Social and Economic Rights 1966
- Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1979
- Nigeria’s Constitution, 1999
- State Laws and other legislations on sexual abuse.
- General Preventive and Remedial Imperatives for Sexual Exploitation of children
– Sustained public enlightenment through awareness raising and providing information to the general public on the ills of sexual exploitation through campaigns, jingles, films, research, training and other programmes.
– Adoption of protective measures for victims of sexual exploitation through the provision of shelter, adequate counselling, and rehabilitation procedures
– Development, periodic review and strategic implementation of laws, policies and programmes towards the suppression of sexual exploitation
– Comprehensive and prompt prosecution of offenders of sexual offences.
– Partnership with relevant stakeholders towards the elimination of crime.
Sexual exploitation of children is a terrible phenomenon and should be discouraged by all. The adoption of the above preventive and remedial Imperatives may result in the reduction of the crime.
It goes without saying that a lot needs to be done by all stakeholders to rid the society of the deadly gangs of child sex exploiters and pedophiles who have no place in our society.
This is a clarion call on the judiciary, the legislature, human rights advocates like HURIWA, Law Enforcement Agencies, NGOs, the Media Industry, Faith based Organizations, all relevant stakeholders and the entire civil society to stand up against this social malaise called sexual violation of boys and girls.
Our concerted efforts will surely pave way for a safer society for our children and generations to come.
Once again, let me commend the vision and foresight of HURIWA for putting together this lecture of which I am optimistic will rejuvenate and strengthen our quest for a virile system engendered by more stringent laws and campaigns against sexual exploitation of children in our society.
I wish you all a fulfilling and intellectually rewarding Lecture.