Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Lesson from Little J's Ordeal; Parents/Guardians, Who Do You Leave Your Girl Child With?

When I was really young and while growing up, I heard (and I am still hearing) a lot of horrible tales about girls being raped, molested, taken advantage of or impregnated when they are really young. Few times, the perpetrators are identified as callous strangers and more often than not - trusted "brothers" and "uncles". Notably, out of these many horrible occurrences I have learnt about, there has never been a case in which I know the victim or have a personal relationship with her...not until now. This is why little J's mishap is a very heart-wrenching experience for me.

J is a beautiful, bubbly, smart and energetic 13 year old girl. My first encounter with her was 2 years ago at my cousin's birthday party which was hosted in my house. Being a very popular neighborhood kid, she easily got an invitation to the party from my mum and she had turned up looking very elegant. When it was time for a dancing competition, J beat all the other girls and boys HANDS DOWN on the dance floor with her almost professional "twists" and "shakes".

Like every other adult present that day, I was positively AMAZED and I began to develop a special likeness for her. From that day onwards, whenever I happened to be in the neighborhood and we run into each other, J would greet me courteously and I would reply and make small talk with the vibrant young girl. It was during one of these chit chats that I found out that she attended  the same school with one of my younger brothers, and that they were also classmates.

Fast forward to December 2014...I have just rounded up my semester examinations and I am back home for the Christmas break. As is the unwritten tradition in my family, my mum and siblings try as much as possible to update me on recent happenings that I missed out on while I was away. Suddenly, my mum blurts out; "Ehen Olly, you know that J girl that you said you like? Well, she got pregnant and had to have an abortion."

I was dumbfounded, but I managed to stutter some questions after about 20 seconds of utter shock.

Apparently, both of J's parents are involved in some kind of business that keeps them away - all day everyday. This meant that most times, 13 year old J stayed all day (and sometimes through the night) with her 16 year old brother - all alone at home, whenever they were not at school. It turns out that J and her hormone raging, full-blood brother had been engaging in sexual intercourse; which eventually led to J's pregnancy.

I am livid at how neither of their parents saw absolutely nothing wrong in leaving two immature teenagers ALL ALONE and totally unattended. An old woman who is also a neighbor to J's family admitted to catching J and her brother bathing together and playing ''rough play'' with each other when they thought no one was watching. However, her words of caution to J's mother had fallen on deaf ears. At this point, we cannot even fully ascertain whether the bouts of sexual intercourse between J and her older brother were consensual or coerced - we are talking about 2 siblings who are both minors!

After having an abortion and her brother mercilessly beaten by their parents in the full glare of everyone in the neighborhood (I wish the adhoc discipline could turn things around), J was removed from her parent's home and taken to her grandmother's. According to her parents, she would continue her education there and put the entire ordeal behind her.

This story is not one to be shared over lunch or during gossip whispers. Indeed, it is a call to wariness for parents and guardians overseeing the welfare of any girl child (particularly girls below 18). Parents need to learn to have watchful and mature eyes over their girls as much as possible, in order to prevent horrible ordeals like little J's,.

Dear GPC blog reader, what options do you think J's parents could have employed to protect J from this sad experience? Do you think they have handled the bad situation well? If not, what should they have done to handle the situation better? We would really love to have your comments and insights :)

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