Annie tried to quicken her pace to catch up with Matthew, their neighbour and Pastor’s son. Her mum was busy at work and she had sent Matthew, her student and Pastor’s child to pick her up in School.
Annie was almost 5 years old and in Nursery one. She was a pretty smart and outgoing child, every one around loved her or perhaps was pretending to love her as she later realised. Her siblings were in secondary school, so they closed much later and couldn’t pick her up.
“Hurry Annie. I still have to return to school for afternoon prep classes.” Matthew called out as he slowed down his pace for her to catch up.
“But I’m tired. You’re bigger, so you can walk faster. Why don’t you just carry me? I’m pretty small.” Annie told him cheekily with a big smile.
Matthew paused and stared at the smiling little girl while Annie was getting very uncomfortable under his gaze. She didn’t know why he was staring at her like that, as if he was just seeing her for the first time.
“I want to pee. Wait here for me.” He said to her after a while.
“But this is a very quiet and bushy place. I can’t stay here alone.” Annie protested.
“Then come with me.” He said to her with a knowing smile as if expecting her to say just that.
“Annie, why are you crying here? Your mates are playing in front of the house. And why are you still in your school wear?” Her big cousin asked when she found Annie crying at the back of the house all alone, still in her school uniform.
Annie continued crying and wouldn’t say anything to her big cousin. She wiped her tears and after a while and only continued hiccupping.
“Annie, talk to me. Did your teacher or a senior student pick on you?”
Annie shook her head.
“Then what is it?” Big cousin asked again.
“I’m not supposed to say. He said no one would believe me.” Annie finally managed to speak.
“Who and what would no one believe?” Big cousin moved closer this time.
That was when Annie recounted how Matthew had defiled her in the name of getting excited by her. How he had blamed it all on her and the poor girl had actually believed it was her fault. To make matters worse, he had threatened her not to tell anyone, even if she did, no one would believe her, he had said.
“Annie, you are a girl, why would you follow a boy inside the bush to pee?” Big cousin asked.
Annie was taken aback. That wasn’t what she was expecting to hear. She already accepted it was her fault but she wanted someone that’ll help her realise he was also at fault.
“I was scared of being left alone.” She answered timidly.
“Because you’re a girl, you were not supposed to follow him into a quiet place. He’s a boy, he is bound to want to do that. You being there triggered him more. Also, because you are a girl, he is right. No one will believe you. Even if they do, you will just be embarrassing your mum the more. You don’t want that so you?”
Annie shook her head. Her cousin took her inside to clean up after that and the matter was forgotten while Annie became scarred right from that young age.
Like Annie, in the illustration above, girls have been made to believe that when something like that happens, it is their fault.
Why did you dress like that? Why did you talk to him? Why did you leave the house? Why were you there at that time? Why, why and why?
This has left many girls with the feeling of uselessness and utter helplessness. Thanks to a more enlightened world, issues like this are being tackled gradually and sexual abuse in children is seriously frowned at, if the family members let the girl report it.
One shouldn’t be quick to judge or blame the big cousin in the story above. She might have been told the exact same thing by another family member. We have been kept in a small box for too long and it’s time we broke out of it.
Sisters, aunties, mothers should encourage their children to speak to them. Forget about the embarrassment it might bring, but sometimes, all the healing a child needs in such a situation might just be someone to listen, believe and fight for her.
In commemoration of October 11th, International celebration of girl child around the world.
You might want to check out the male version of this article in
There’s a book that reminds me of all these stories. It is entertaining, motivating, and educational. Check out Triumph of Innocence by Fada Kay.
© Oluwaseun Wende, 2017