Our team at Awareness for Child Trafficking Africa have been doing Humanitarian work, specifically focussing on children for over 10 years individually and across Africa even prior to the birth of this organization.

The reason, children are our future and they are vulnerable. Yet they are being abused daily, sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally. So, often I hear or see articles, speakers and in general conversation, people differentiating between sexual, physical abuse and mental, emotional abuse.

The fact is once someone is sexually and or physically abused, they have automatically experienced all the other forms of abuse because these violent vicious acts encompass all and therefore we cannot differentiate.

However, a person can be physically, emotionally and mentally abused without being sexually abused, yet all those acts are just as traumatic for the victim. As per statistics provided by the World Health Organization, it is estimated up to 1 billion children aged 2 to 17 years have experienced one or more forms of abuse.

Children undergoing one form or the other of abuse, often do not speak out about the abuse experienced for fear of not being believed by their parents or caregivers, embarrassment as well as being threatened by the perpetrator not to tell anyone.  In lots of cases they bribe the children with gifts and tell them very convincingly not to tell and the famous words “It’s our secret”.

Children often block these violent acts out mentally as a protective mechanism to avoid reality and to shut off the emotions and hurt they feel. This is dormant and in later years as teenagers, these children start acting out and are sadly misunderstood as being rebellious and delinquent often turning to drink, drugs, prostitution and crime in one form or the other.

There is the other side of this too, where the children become extremely introvert and bury themselves in books, overstudy and don’t socialise much and do well at school in spite and despite their experiences.

I am close to quite a few people who have been abused as children and in one instance as supposed to be “rebellious and or delinquent” the teenager known to me was indeed the opposite. She was very studious, didn’t socialise much and books were her everything.

This was her crutch. Unfortunately, her parents and neither any of us around her daily thought of this as being out of the ordinary but that it was her personality. How wrong we were…

As an adult, this quiet, intelligent, studious person got involved in very toxic abusive relationships, one after the other and we could not understand why, until one fine fateful day everything surfaced, over fifty years later whilst undergoing counselling. We discovered that this beautiful lady was sexually molested by someone known to the family as a toddler and further on into her childhood.

She kept this as a secret for fear of family relationships being severed and thought her dad would end up in prison for probably killing the perpetrator if he found out and did not want that and instead blocked out these horrific atrocities experienced. Later on, just at the end of her teens, she was raped by three brothers, again going through hell.

Needless to say, the effects of the abuse endured during her childhood has had major negative ramifications right into her adulthood, where she constantly felt insecure and unworthy leading to bad decisions regarding relationships almost costing her life.

A few weeks ago in the community where I live, within a period of 48 hours 5 babies were badly abused by their Mum’s caught up in drugs. These Mums are victims of abuse and this evil cycle of abuse has continued.  We can continue to provide more examples of cases past and present which our organization has assisted and still assisting with, however what already has been mentioned more than shows that we are beyond crisis point with regards to Child Abuse.

The Shelter for girls which our NPO Awareness for Child Trafficking Africa supports, houses 35  teen girls which have been through abuse in their childhood and again all of the above emotions, reactions as a result of the abuse as previously mentioned are evident.

We see too that their concentration spans are adversely affected thus affecting their learning.
We have a moral and civic duty to love, protect, nurture, provide for and help children grow into healthy, productive adults adding positivity in this world in every sphere of life and not abuse them.

Instead, a blind eye is being turned…How much longer must our children suffer and endure these atrocities??? We don’t have the answer to that but we do know we will fight hard to be part of the solutions and hopefully, that will down the road help provide one or more answers to this evil.

Written by: Hilary Leong and Matthew Mensah for and on behalf of Awareness for Child Trafficking Africa.

4th Issue – March 2020