Child abuse and especially violence against the girl child is not a new issue but has become a very common phenomenon in recent times. It is known as the physical, sexual or psychological mistreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or caregiver.
It may include any act or failure to act by a parent or other caregivers that result in actual or potential harm to a child and can occur in a child’s home or in organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with.
It is very outrageous to know that these acts are perpetuated by the parents of the victims or relatives. Cases have occurred where fathers see their female children as very sexually appealing or uncles ask for sex in exchange for school fees and text books.
Others simply say they want a taste of their own pudding or want a foretaste of what other men will be enjoying. This is the case with a form 5 student in a school in Buea whose uncle has been sexually abusing her in exchange for her school fee and other school requirements. She recounts that this started when she was in form 1 at a time when she became an orphan and was asked to leave with her uncle. After so many years she finally decided to open up in order to shun this horrible practice.
Solange Chioma, a Nigerian girl leaving in Buea also tells the story of how her father has been sexually violating her for 7 years. When her father was reproached for the crime, he defends himself saying he was just tasting the soup he had cooked.
Child abuse is common in Less Developed countries were children’s rights are not respected. Children are forced to work at tender ages, hawking food, fruits, clothes and house hold articles. Some of these kids are either orphans or children from poor homes who do not have any means to help themselves.
In Cameroon it is common place to find very young children hawking in bus stations, Toll gates and bus stops at night and even during school periods, while their age mates are either in class learning, playing or even sleeping.
This other category of children find themselves on street corners in the hot sun fighting for survival. Due to child abuse, the children face severe cases of rape (rape will result to sexually transmitted disease and or unwanted pregnancy), kidnap, death, a high level of illiteracy and malnutrition.
It is well known that the Government of Cameroon has brought out measures to curb illiteracy by offering free education for all but some parents and guardians seem not to care about educating their children. Rather, they are interested in sending them off for early marriages. Some even encourage their children to go in to prostitution just to get money to sustain their home.
It is overwhelming that even in Asian countries, children are sexually abused, as they are made to expose their genitals for pornography and as sex workers. This exposes the victims to fear, guilt, nightmares, insomnia and can drive them to insanity.