There is a tweet out there postulating that “any three year old can accuse a caregiver of impropriety and we have lives destroyed by an unthinking mob”.
Not only is such an impiously worded assertion insensitive in the present circumstance involving Chrisland schools, it is arguably lacking in coherence.
Three-year-olds stutter and probably tell tales, but hardly do they draw pictures. Vivid pictures, apparently, supposing we can be allowed to believe the professional evaluation of the clinical psychologist whose endeavour in detailing the particulars of this case should be lauded. It could be alleged that having not heard directly from the pupil, the precise words used in the conversations between her and the teacher as presented by the female psychologist could be subject to scrutiny. But what would the latter really gain by embellishing the account of a 3-year old against a 47-year old man?
A society which would not pay sufficient attention to the complaints of its young girls, who have barely started speaking, will hardly bother when they become abused ladies and battered wives. It is a disservice to moral and social development that the initial reaction of many persons on issues of assault is to first blame the victim or to inquire into the state of their mental health. Most disheartening is the fact that this would be done in a matter involving a three-year-old.
This gives credence to the reluctance of many parents, whose children have suffered such abuse, to file suits or follow up their cases in court. Indeed, the other parent in this particular Chrisland case declined speaking to the psychologist or presenting her case to the DSVRT, for fear of discrimination. There is a history of not believing girls and women who come forward with accusations of this type. In some cases, it could be parents themselves who are the devil’s advocate. Today, she is a celebrity and motivational speaker whose moi moi delighted former US first lady Michelle Obama, but Ayodeji Megbope was severally abused sexually by an older uncle practically while living under the same roof with her mother. She was not believed, and you would not be hard-pressed to find many like that.
There must be a way to break the taboo around sharing such stories and reminding members of the public that these terrible and despicable things happen, and that many “hardworking” “responsible” “upright” “Christian” men get away without charge. Storyteller Eketi Ette has probably started this process, sharing her own gruesome and painful ‘3-year old’ experience through a thread on Twitter late on Valentine’s Day. Inspired by her account, another person shared hers. And some others are telling on behalf of others, of those who were barely a year old when their own abuse began. There is a boy with a story of this kind of assault suffered at the hand of a much older girl because pedophilic assault has also had many male children as victims.
These are now being shared after decades of keeping silence, after years of stifling pain and wishing those days never were. It may not be possible to go back to investigate any of these cases; the statute of limitation has probably run out on most of them. Perhaps some of these molesters are in pretty deplorable conditions now, or one or two may have “turned it around” to become members of the clergy. Whatever be the case, it would be very irresponsible to summarily dismiss all of these recounts on the basis that “any three year old can accuse a caregiver of impropriety”. If there is any genuine regret that they suffered this fate, perhaps it should be taken more seriously when any such troubling matters are reported by 3-year olds today.
On the Chrisland case, it will ultimately be the duty of the courts to evaluate the case against the alleged assaulter. His employers have shown confidence and good faith in him by engaging the services of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a move which is probably as much to defend the man as it is to show-off a high-brow appearance. One can only hope that what the judges hear will not be dependent on what the defendants wear.