You hardly open any of the national dailies without one group or the other decrying the alarming rising statistics of rape in the country. No doubt, the cases are getting more daring and callous daily.
But you see, if our society wasn’t such a hypocritically closed one - with a majority who would rather be ostriches, all the days of their lives - we would have known ages ago that the girl child had always been in danger.
Two years ago, in honour of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month, madamnoire.com had a special feature dedicated to some famous women who were sexually abused and were brave enough to speak out at one point or the other.
Many of those women, including Oprah Winfrey, Ashley Judd, Madonna, among others were violated either as children or teens. Another common factor is that people very close to home abused them.
For instance, an older cousin raped Oprah when she was just nine years old!
The girl-child has always been an endangered species, preyed on by friends and foes alike. Apparently it is a universal given and even the laws in those countries couldn’t protect those girls and young women from abuse.
I don’t know about other women out there but the life of the average girl-child in this part of the world has never been easy too.
There has always been this pressure, more pressure and nothing but pressure.
It gets worse once puberty comes calling.
Then the mother, aunties and almost any older woman around all become the guardians of her virtue.
If the focus from the outset was on nurturing an emotionally and mentally healthy and independent human being, the outcomes today might have been different.
If all those expended efforts went into bringing up a woman with a healthy dose of self-love and worth, we would certainly have less number of these ‘stories that touch the heart’.
Rather, she is constantly schooled on how to be a good wife, in-law and mother.
Her homemaking skills are constantly put to the test.
She masters the art of coquetry even before she understands its extensive effects.
She is taught to always close her legs while seated, so that no man can see her panties.
Yes, no man sees the colour of her panties, but what about the colour of her thoughts?
What does she see in the mirror daily? Who tells her about her potential and strengths as a budding woman?
Therefore, after we are done with all the oohs and aahs about the Ese Orurus of this world, it is important we look inwards and ask ourselves as parents and guardians where we have failed.
At least, now we have successfully chased away the ‘hawk’ that almost succeeded in carting away the chick right before our eyes, it is time to face the mother hen and find out how this could have happened on her watch.
And yes, we should query the ‘Father-hen’ too.
Recently I read a paper on the relationship between a father and her daughter, especially on how ‘well-fathered daughters are usually more self-confident, more self-reliant, and more successful in school and in their careers than poorly-fathered daughters’.
The paper also disclosed that ‘girls exposed to a stressful environment, especially when due to father’s absence in the first seven years of life, showed an early onset of puberty, precocious sexuality, and unstable relationships as adults.
Obviously, the role a father is meant to play in his daughter’s life should go beyond donating the X chromosome.
We have hammered on the mothers for so long and since it appears the one good thing many of them are great at is preparing the girl-child for marriage and motherhood, it is time we looked the father’s way for some help.
There may not be a readily available research to quote here but I can almost bet on my last kilowatt hour that whenever a girl or young woman is sexually violated by a familiar person, the incident would have been preceded by an unhealthy closeness between the victim and her predator. It is even more so when the ugly incident is repeated over and over.
Such closeness, in turn could only have been borne out of an existing gap - a gap that should have been filled by a responsible and committed father.
You see fathers hang out with their sons, eager to initiate them into manhood or whatever it is they term it but how many of them pay attention to the daughters?
The girl child should be so wholesomely nurtured, that should any misguided cad ever crawl out from whatever hole his kith and kin reside, to practice his newly acquired madness on her, she would – even without uttering a word - summarily send him back with an iron belt to hold up his sagging trousers.
Yes, that is how strong a nurtured girl can be.
But not many mothers can achieve this alone.
So, let the real fathers step forward, today.