I read the newspaper with my heart in my mouth. “It was an herbalist who told me I would be rich if I slept with my daughter.” The shameless father of a nine-year-old girl whom he had defiled, according to him, nine times was in court to face the charges of raping his daughter. I was sick to my stomach and then his shamelessness was escalated by the next idiotic comment from him. “I do not know why I am the only one arrested. The herbalist should also have been arrested.” I am in complete shut down when I get to this part of the newspaper. A father, his daughter. It is unthinkable but true. Incest has become such a huge problem worldwide that when I see a father unduly close to his daughter and wanting to be left alone at all times with her, I worry. A mother’s searchlight eyes and questioning mien always places a mad man on the alert and often keeps him at bay. But not always. Too many girls are falling through the cracks especially in broken homes. If your husband is violent, insulting you in front of your children and fairly deranged, what’s to say if you leave your children with him, he may not try funny things with the girls. The girl is damaged for life and her life is in ruins while the man moves on to the next vulnerable girl.
I have often imagined the move, the moment, the violence, the fear. A little girl of only nine, who is barely out of her diapers trying her best to even understand those hard bumps on her chest, the onset of breasts, may not even have had her first period. The pain of the activity, the befuddlement about the principal character, her own father cooing her along and shushing her, the very thoughts are unbearable. The physical rape, the emotional rape, the torture, the silence, the stigma, the shame.
I am truly ashamed of these men walking the streets as Fela puts it, animal dey wear agbada. It is easy to bring the small men to court who have defiled their daughters but a lot more men especially big men in glistening agbada have done worse things to their daughters and have the nerve to even give lectures on moral decadence. A lot of the men committing these heinous crimes against our girls are often very well respected in the society, totally shameless goons who are getting on with their lives having destroyed one of God’s most precious creations, the girl child.
I have stated in this column before that sometimes a woman, the mother of the girl, an aunty or even an elder sister having been subjected to the same punishment keep very quiet even when they know what is going on. The mums are particularly complicit and out of fear or stupid respect do not want their husbands disgraced and allow their daughters to be destroyed. Watch out for some girls whose relationships with their mothers are completely broken down. In a lot of these cases the girls cannot express their hurt that their mother knew and allowed it to go on. Stepfathers are a different ball game. They come into a marriage and target mother and daughter. It is sickening. And in South Africa some men are accused of raping their daughters because they believe they should have the first taste of their daughter’s virginity.
There is no description for the goings on in homes these days and the sad levels of deprivation, depression and the pain tomorrow’s mothers are subjected to.
I have heard in too many African quarters, sleep with your daughter to be rich, to cure AIDS, to have control over her. Really? The reasons in addition to cases of mental illness place the girl child at the bottom of the vulnerability level with no one to talk to as they are sworn to silence. Even those whom they trust do nothing to help. For money, you are willing to destroy your own child? It is so sad and depressing.
Too many dysfunctional women, too many women of easy virtue, too many depressed women, too many sorrowful girls, destroyed in their prime, the result of a beastly activity called incest. Who can help us now? The pain is deep, the answers, the questions, the incredulity!