Editor's Comment

Defilement is criminal regardless of who commits it

DEFILEMENT has continued to be a huge challenge in our society. Statistics indicate that the number of defilement cases reported has continued to increase.
In the first quarter of 2018, 645 cases of child defilement were recorded compared to 627 cases in the same period in 2017, indicating an increase by 18 cases or 2.8 percent.
While it is commendable that more cases of defilement are coming to light, the sad reality is that the current figures are not an accurate reflection of the magnitude of the problem.
This is because a lot more cases, especially those perpetrated by fathers and close family members, are being swept under the carpet.
Many women who have had children defiled by their husbands have kept their mouths shut, leaving the victims to suffer in silence.
Many of these women choose to remain quiet on the abuse of their children by their spouses because they totally depend on these men for a living.
Losing these men due to incarceration is considered as an ultimate sentence to poverty for these women and their children.
This, unfortunately, is the weapon also used to silence the young victims from sharing their traumatic experiences with anybody.
Traditionally, women are also told never to wash dirty linen in public. This means that whatever happens in their homes is not supposed to be brought into the public domain.
Today, we have so many women who have failed to expose spouses abusing their children because they believe doing so is being uncultured and irresponsible.
This is what is hindering the fight against child defilement.
As rightly observed by Kembe Member of Parliament Princess Kasune, there are no two ways to winning the battle against child defilement other than having everybody on board.
This entails that women should be courageous and responsible enough to report husbands or spouses in the habit of sexually abusing their children or dependants.
Ms Kasune has a valid point in urging women to speak out on gender-based violence (GBV) involving their girl-child, regardless of who the perpetrator is.
Certainly, sexual abuse is criminal regardless of who the perpetrator is.
Whether perpetrated by a close relative or a total stranger, sexual abuse or defilement is a criminal act punishable by law.
“The tendency of keeping quiet is killing us. Desperation of keeping our marriage or relationship should not make us entertain GBV against our girl-child,” Ms Kasune said.
It is not only insensitive but cruelty and an injustice of the highest order for any woman to witness her daughter or any defenseless girl in her custody being abused by the so-called father, and yet do nothing about it in the name of preserving marriage.
If that truly is the cost of keeping any marriage, then it is not worth it because the damage caused on the victims is immeasurable and lasts a lifetime.
According to sociologists, the first few years of life are critical to a child’s emotional and spiritual development. It is during those tender years that a child begins developing moral boundaries and a sense of personal worth. By bonding to her parents, a child also learns the meaning of love and trust.
However, when a child is abused, this process of trust building gets derailed. The abuser betrays the child’s trust and also robs her of any semblance of safety, privacy, or self-respect by using her as a mere object of self-gratification.
Psychologists have established that many abused victims suffer an array of symptoms, including depression.
Some also fume with persistent and, at times, overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame, and rage. Other victims may suffer emotional shutdown, an inability to express or even feel emotion. Low self-esteem and feelings of powerlessness also afflict many.
As a result, some victims fail to maintain healthy relationships while others resort to drug abuse and crime.
Given the devastating effects, it is unthinkable that a father who is mentally sound can even entertain the thought or imagination of sexually abusing his own daughter.
If a man can be so cruel to harm his own daughter or niece in such a manner, then he certainly has no conscience and is a danger to society.
Such men are even a danger to the same wives who protect them from the law.
In the interest of justice and safeguarding the lives of girls, women should take the bull by its horns and report abusive husbands regardless of whether they are breadwinners or not.
It is also time women became financially independent to avoid tolerating such vices for the sake of having a roof over their heads and food on their tables. Life is worth much more.

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