According to UNICEF, every year, millions of girls and boys around the world face sexual abuse and exploitation. Sexual violence occurs everywhere – in every country and across all segments of society. A child may be subjected to sexual abuse or exploitation at home, at school, or in their community.

The widespread use of digital technologies can also put children at risk.
Most often, abuse occurs at the hands of someone a child knows and trusts.
At least 120 million girls under the age of 20 – about 1 in 10 – have been forced to engage in sex or perform other sexual acts, although the actual figure is likely much higher.

Roughly 90 percent of adolescent girls who report forced sex say that their first perpetrator was someone they knew, usually a boyfriend or a husband.
But many victims of sexual violence, including millions of boys, never tell anyone.

Although sexual violence occurs everywhere, the risks are far higher in emergency contexts. During armed conflict, natural disasters, and other humanitarian emergencies, women, and children are especially vulnerable to sexual violence – including conflict-related sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and trafficking for sexual exploitation – as well as other forms of gender-based violence.

Sexual violence results in severe physical, psychological and social harm. Victims experience an increased risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, pain, illness, unwanted pregnancy, social isolation, and psychological trauma. Some victims may resort to risky behaviors like substance abuse to cope with trauma. And as child victims reach adulthood, sexual violence can reduce their ability to care for themselves and others.

Types Of Child Molestation, Abuse & Trafficking

Exhibitionism (Exposing oneself to a minor):
Exhibitionism, which is sometimes referred to as exposing oneself to a minor, can also mean a perversion in which sexual gratification is obtained from the indecent exposure of one’s genitals (as to a stranger).

The practice may have come from a desire or compulsion to expose themselves in such a manner to groups of friends or acquaintances, or to strangers for their amusement or sexual satisfaction or to shock the bystander, which in this case, is a minor.
However, When exhibitionistic sexual interest is acted on with a non-consenting person or interferes with a person’s quality of life or normal functioning, it can be diagnosed as an exhibitionistic disorder.

Some examples of Exhibitionism are:

Anasyrma: the lifting of the skirt when not wearing underwear, to expose genitals.
Candaulism: when a person exposes his or her partner in a sexually provocative manner.
Flashing: the momentary display of bare female breasts by a woman with an up-and-down lifting of the shirt or bra or the exposure of a man’s or woman’s genitalia.
Martymachlia: a paraphilia that involves sexual attraction to having others watch the execution of a sexual act.
Mooning: the display of bare buttocks by pulling down trousers and underwear. The act is most often done for the sake of humor, disparagement, or mockery.

Fondling:
This is an act of handling tenderly, lovingly, or lingeringly a part of a child’s body. This can be seen as Child Molestation and abuse as well. When an adult decides to touch, rub or caress a child’s body, it can be called fondling.

Masturbation in a Child’s Presence:
Masturbation, or self-pleasuring, is touching and rubbing parts of your body for sexual pleasure, such as the penis, scrotum, clitoris, vulva, breasts, and anus. Masturbation can involve a person exploring their own body, but can also happen between two people which is called mutual masturbation.

If masturbation is occurring between people (mutual masturbation), consent needs to be given and obtained.
This becomes a gruesome act when an adult subjects him or herself to perform the act of masturbation in front of a minor, it simply becomes a form of child abuse & Molestation.

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Producing or sharing pornographic images of children:

This is an act that allows another person to physically copy child pornography images or movies constitutes distribution of pornography under federal law.
So does give away or selling such images or movies. For example, a person who prints a copy of an explicit image of a child and gives that image to someone else has distributed pornography.

Likewise, a person who gives another person a CD that contains video clips depicting children engaged in sexual conduct has also distributed pornography. Finally, a person who sells sexually explicit images of children has distributed child pornography.
However, these days, most people who are charged with distributing pornography have shared electronic files and images via the Internet or private networks.

Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking is otherwise known as human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery, which is considered a form of modern slavery.

A victim is forced, in one of a variety of ways, into a situation of dependency on their trafficker(s) and then used by the trafficker(s) to perform sexual services to customers.
It is important to note that Sex trafficking crimes can involve acquisition, transportation and exploitation, this includes child sex tourism (CST), domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) or other kinds of commercial sexual exploitation of children, and prostitution.
Most victims find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous.

Sexual exploitation;

Child sexual exploitation is another form of child sexual abuse in which a person of any age takes advantage of a power imbalance to force or entice a child into engaging in sexual activity in return for something received by the child and or those perpetrating or facilitating the abuse. As with other forms of child sexual abuse, the presence of perceived consent does not undermine the abusive nature of the act.

Child sexual abuse encompasses ‘any act that involves the child in any activity for the sexual gratification of another. clearly falls within this, and like any other form of sexual abuse can include both contact and non-contact sexual activity, in person or via virtual means.

Forced Marriages:

There is a clear difference between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the young people.

In a forced marriage, one or both spouses do not consent to the arrangement of the marriage and some elements of duress are involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual, and emotional pressure. Forced Marriage is an abuse of human rights and, where a child is involved, an abuse of the rights of the child.

Forced marriage involving anyone under the age of 18 constitutes a form of child abuse. A child who is forced into marriage is at risk of significant harm through physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Forced marriage can have a negative impact on a child’s health and development, and can also result in sexual violence including rape.

If a child is forced to marry, he or she may be taken abroad for an extended period of time which could amount to child abduction. In addition, a child in such a situation would be absent from school resulting in the loss of educational opportunities, and possibly also future employment opportunities. Even if the child is not taken abroad, they are likely to be taken out of school so as to ensure that they do not talk about their situation with their peers.

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Domestic Slavery

This is defined as children who are engaged to perform domestic tasks in the home of a third party or employer, with or without remuneration. The vast majority of child domestic workers are girls.

Domestic work is one of the most widespread and invisible sectors for child exploitation. Many of the children involved in paid or unpaid domestic work, do so in harmful conditions. While some domestic workers are well looked after, many of them have to work extremely hard, and some children are brutally exploited. Many boys and girls are compelled to work as domestic workers and are unpaid or not paid at all.

They can experience physical violence such as beatings, starvation, psychological violence such as verbal abuse and threats, and sexual abuse. In many cases, children work under conditions of domestic slavery where their personal freedom is restricted or totally denied. Many are banned from attending school or have so much work they cannot attend classes.

Impacts of Child Molestation, Abuse & Trafficking 

It is commonly said children are the future. Well, when that future is tampered with, what then do we are left of it?

Abuse, molestation, and trafficking of children go from the very mild effects such as distortion of their psyche and growth all the way up to the extent of exposing a country’s system to large-scale criminality and violence.

Emotional/Behavioural Distortion

Children who have been abused in any form or would develop characteristic tendencies of traumatic experiences. These could include an increase in nightmares and/or other sleeping difficulties; Withdrawn behavior; Angry outbursts; Anxiety; Depression; Not wanting to be left alone with a particular individual(s); Sexual knowledge, language, and/or behaviors that are inappropriate for the child’s age; change in hygiene- either not wanting to bathe or bathing excessively; overly protective of siblings.

Although many children who have experienced sexual abuse show behavioral and emotional changes, many others do not. It is therefore critical to focus not only on detection but on prevention and communication to speak up when under threat.

Anti-Social Adults 

The young shall grow, right? Well, eventually, these children grow into adults divergent to societal norms. Due to distorted mental health while growing up, these children, now adults, fail in relationships most times. Either they become extremely aggressive or extremely drawn away from people, both of which are anti-social traits.

Danger Of Continued Involvement 

Abused children could also turn out to become abusers. Research suggests that the longer young people are commercially sexually exploited, the more intractable the patterns of behavior that contributed to their vulnerability to exploitation become, making it difficult for them to find a way out. Hence, they tour the path to keep body and soul as it seems like the only way for them.

A vivid example of this is Ugandan rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen, who was recently sentenced by the International Criminal Court, The Hague for war crimes during the LRA’s reign of terror in the early 2000s.

The defense lawyers had during the trial argued pled the case, using Ongwen’s past as a schoolboy abducted by the LRA, who was tortured and groomed in the lifestyle of a rebel, to support their argument for a reduced term. They argued that the accused turned to brutality based on his ugly experience.

Heavy Toll On Families & Communities 

On a larger scale, the harmful norms that perpetuate child sexual violence and molestation take a heavy toll on families and communities too. There is no escaping this especially for a nation that is unaware of the problems or disengaged from this evil against children.

And as children face sexual abuse experiences and other kinds of violence on a consistent and extensive basis, social and gender norms create a climate in which violence gets normalized. Abuse and exploitation become entrenched and progress towards development and peace are hindered with consequences for entire societies.

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How To Combat Child Molestation, Abuse & Trafficking

Poverty Alleviation

Poverty has become a normal phenomenon in Nigeria. Children are being lured into the traps of these perpetrators with a meager amount of money and gifts.

These innocent children will continue to be subject to this menace as long as they struggle to make ends meet. The government and the society at large should put in place strategies that enable parents to avail the basic needs of their kids. This way, there will be a reduction in the child molestation rate.

Ultimately, parents should invest more in providing their kids with these little things that can easily get them distracted and trapped.

Self-Defence Training

Children, especially the girl child should be taught how to defend herself when she finds herself in certain situations. Apart from the few cases of parents giving off their kids to offenders in exchange for money, there also times when these kids find themselves in situations they cannot control.

In these times, they are helpless and do not know to defend themselves. This training should be put in place, if possible, taught in school as a course on its own, touching both the and practical aspects of it.

This certainly would go a long way in combating this menace that has eaten deep into our society.

Awareness Culture

According to research, Public enlightenment has been proven to be a critical tool in changing the behavioral pattern, attitude, beliefs, and value system of people. There should be intense public enlightenment and education at every type of gathering, be it at schools, churches, and the likes through the media, and every other possible means.

A large number of people still strongly believe that when a child is assaulted, it is subject to how they carry themselves in the eyes of the opposite sex. This mentality should be erased and perpetrators of crimes should be blamed as opposed to the victims.

People need to understand that assault, trafficking, and molestation should be dealt with and kicked out of our society at large.

Report Your Suspicions

Make it a habit to report your suspicion always, be it molestation, abuse, or trafficking. Call the nearest police station or agency.

Regardless of whether you are a parent or not you can still make an impact on society by being watchful and making sure that most of these cases are brought before the right authorities/agencies. While at it, be sure to do away with all forms of sentiment no matter who the wrought of the law falls on.

Conclusion

Child abuse and molestation are vices that should be treated with the utmost disgust. It’s is one with a ripple effect so great that it not only affects communities but the survival of humankind as a whole.

Our children are the future of the world, and if they get subjected to inhumane atrocities such as these, what then remains of our society.
The molestation and abuse of children is an eyesore to society in general, and it’s should come with one of the worst punishments ever known to mankind.

As parents, conversations about sexual assault can be a part of the safety conversations you’re already having, like knowing when to speak up, how to take care of friends, and listening to your gut.

The key is to start these conversations when your kids are young and have these conversations often.

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