Ese Oruru: A teenager being torn apart

Ese Oruru: A teenager being torn apart

When do teenage relationships start?

According to raisingchildren.net.au , there isn’t a ‘right age’ to start having relationships – every child is different, and every family/culture will feel differently about this issue. But here are some averages:

From 9-11 years, your child might start to show more independence from the family and more interest in friends.From 10-14 years, your child might want to spend more time in mixed gender groups, which might eventually end up in a romantic relationship.From 15-19 years, romantic relationships can become central to social life. Friendships might become deeper and more stable.

There is a lot of controversy about Ese’s age, but the excellent investigative journalism by AIT with the interview of her parents confirm that Ese is in fact 13 yrs old so there is no need to waste time debating about this.

As a mother of a teenage son myself, I know that many teenagers spend a lot of time thinking and talking about being in a relationship. In these years, teenage relationships might last only a few weeks or months. It’s also normal for children to have no interest in romantic relationships until their late teens. Some choose to focus on schoolwork, sport or other interests.

Each parent is different, and no one has a right to tell another parent how to raise their child. But the problem is when the general public decides to have an opinion over a young girl’s sexuality. Going over Linda Ikeji’s blog when it was announced that Ese had in fact choosen to stay in Kano, the comments people left on the article made me nauseous. They had no respect for her privacy, and no one even viewed her as a child.

It is very disturbing that our society does not view child sexuality any different from adult sexuality. They take it lightly and find it funny that a 13 year old confused and vulnerable, who has obviously made some poor choices  should be made an object of ridicule.

Puberty is the period when an adolescent reaches physical growth and sexual maturity. It is marked with bodily changes and change in feeling towards opposite sex due to increase in sex hormones. This period starts from late childhood and ends with early adulthood. (12 to 18 years).

In this crucial stage, adolescence is influenced by peer pressure especially the opposite sex peers. Puberty is a period marked with rapid physical growth leading to sexual maturity and psychological changes. The average onset of puberty is at 10 or 11 for girls and age 12 or 13 for boys.

Girls become sexually and  physically mature two years earlier than boys. Puberty begins with a surge in hormone production, which in turn causes a number of physical changes a an adolescent is going through drastic physical changes  she also goes through psychological, mental and  emotional changes. Stanley Hall, well known psychologist, describes this stage as the period full of “storm and stress”. This phase is marked with psychologically growing-up. Ericson, another psychologist refers this stage as “Identity Crisis” referring to confusion in identifying oneself neither as a child nor as an adult.

The early and late childhood period boys like to play with boys and girls prefer to be comfortable in the company of girls. Developing relationship with same sex friends and getting their approval and acceptance is one of the important characteristic of interpersonal relationship. The maximum socialization takes place during this stage. But as childhood period end and child enters into an adolescent stage suddenly due to hormonal changes and development of secondary sex characteristics the interest in opposite sex becomes more significant.

Suddenly an adolescent becomes self conscious and  her outlook changes.   She becomes conscious towards herself as well as towards opposite sex. An adolescent spends lot of time looking at himself or herself in the mirror, new look in hair style, preference in clothing and dressing up manners changes, use of cosmetics and interest in looking good increases. Sudden changes occur in improving self image and having better self impression on opposite sex. Girls become shy in the presence  of the opposite sex.

Is all this  my attempt at using pchychology to justify Ese’s behavior? NO! What I am in fact saying is that is is normal for her to be interested in the opposite sex, but that is not a reason to make her an object of  ridicule. She is still a child, and  it is the responsibility of society to protect her till she reaches the age of consent. Just because   she is an  adolescent  with raging hormones doesn’t mean she is a responsible adult ready to make decisions on her own. All responsible adults in her life have to protect her till she is mature enough to understand what she is getting herself into.

Back in 2013, a Time magazine article on abduction began like this…

“Abduction is a singularly grotesque transaction. In a single instant, a relationship between two people changes to one of captor and prisoner, owner and chattel. One holds absolute power and the other holds none.”

The  Nigerian, media had a fanfare with word abduction, but when Ese was being returned, there were a crowd of men around her, the video circulating the web showed a terrified little girl trying to hold on to some sort of control.  There was no comforting voice. Once again, there was absolutely no recognition that this was just a child. For Heaven sakes, Ese is just a child.

She may or may have not chosen to have gone to  Kano. It doesn’t take a genius to know that it will be traumatizing to be the center so much controversy.  She may or may not be in love.  It does not take a PhD to know that no one would want their their private life broadcasted on air. An adult would be nerve wracked to go through what Ese has been through.

The American Psychological Association say, According to research, hostage survivors often develop an unconscious bond to their captors and experience grief if their captors are harmed. They may also feel guilty for developing a bond. This is typically referred to as the Stockholm syndrome. Hostage survivors may also have feelings of guilt for surviving while others did not. It is important for survivors to recognize that these are usual human reactions to being held captive.

When hostages are released, it is essential for them to:

Receive medical attention.
Be in a safe and secure environment.
Connect with loved ones.
Have an opportunity to talk or journal their experience if and when they choose.
Receive resources and information about how to seek counseling, particularly if their distress from the incident is interfering with their daily lives.
Protect their privacy (e.g. avoid media overexposure including watching and listening to news and participating in media interviews).
Take time to adjust back into family and work.

I am writing this as a teacher and a mother, Please for the love of God, leave this child alone to go back to school no more media coverage on this story, it’s doing the Ese more harm than good. As long as she is below the age of consent, all responsible adults should act like it!

 

 

 

Time Magazine

http://science.time.com/2013/05/08/abduction-psych/

 

American Psychological Association

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/hostage-kidnap.aspx

 

Her Parents confirming her age

Blogged onwritestartinternational.com as AN HONEST LOOK AT ESE’S PREDICAMENT

Maryanne Kooda, a CELTA qualified Special Needs Teacher, conducts weekly creative writing workshops and reading programs for 6 to 16 year olds in Colombo Sri Lanka. Ms Kooda is a feature writer with a passion for children; she has extensive teaching experience in the tertiary and primary levels of the Sri Lankan International school system.

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An open letter to paedophiles – Ayodele Olofintuade

An open letter to paedophiles – Ayodele Olofintuade

It is unfortunate that I cannot open this letter with ‘Dear Paedophile’ because the furthest thing you are is ‘dear’. Yes you are human, and you have feelings, but when it comes to criminality, you are in a class of your own. So many things come to mind when I think of you, things like murderer, thief, rapist and most importantly, evil.

I can tell you categorically that there’s no amount of blood that can wash away your ‘sins’, no amount of self-flagellation, of fasting and praying can give you rest, because what you do is ruin lives. You take pleasure in other people’s pain, you take pleasure in the pain of the helpless and the vulnerable, you are beyond contempt and if there is truly a hell, I know you are already living in it. This hell is not the one designed by the religions, this hell is within your head, in the constant headaches, heartaches, in seeing all the things you love wither and die in your presence. You are already suffering from loneliness, dissatisfaction with yourself, and things can only get worse.

I know psychiatrists have tried to excuse your lack of self-control as a sickness of the mind, but you and I know you are not suffering from any mental illness, we both know that what you are is evil, pure and simple.

Psychiatrists may claim that you might have been also raped as a child, that you might have suffered while growing up, but news flash, so were a lot of people that had their childhoods taken away by your groping hands, sticky fingers, by your lack of self-control. We both know that you could have stopped this cycle of pain, if indeed you had been abused as a child, but you CHOSE not to, you CHOSE, to perpetuate the pain, we both know that having sex with children is the only way you feel POWERFUL.

Yes this is about power. The thrill you get when you take a young child of 5, of 7, of 13, a child who is vulnerable, who knows next to nothing about the evil that lurks in the heart of men and women like you and you crush that child by raping him or her.

No you do not love any of those children because we do not rape the people we love, let’s for one sick moment imagine that you actually, truly, love this child, why can’t you wait till such a child reaches the age of consent, why can’t you wait till such a child becomes an adult and can clearly define what he or she wants.

But your pleasure is taken from somebody you have decided is weaker than you. You enjoy seeing their fear, you enjoy taking their childhood and crushing it in your palms, you are the Biblical devil, the Satan in the Quran, you!

It doesn’t matter if such a child is your own, or somebody else’s all you desire is to kill the essence of this child, to impose your sexuality on this child, to break the child, to maim her or him, taking away any opportunity of such a child growing up freely and happily.

Many people might suppose modernity is the root cause of your evil, that you have access to the internet, to the image of children dancing shoki, but we both know that this is not the case, you and I know that you’ve been practising your evil for years, with the knowledge that in a country such as Nigeria, the likelihood that you’ll be caught or sent to prison for a long time is next to nil.

You thrive in dystopia, you love the way things do not work, and that is why you choose people who you believe cannot talk that is why you choose the weak the vulnerable, the one year old, the three months old child.

No you’re not sick, you are EVIL.

Did you also give to the Mirabel Centre? Oh you’ve not heard about them? Well that’s practically the ONLY centre in Nigeria where the victims of your wickedness are being put together the best they could. But if you’ve heard about them, I bet you did send some money to the fund that is being raised, all these noise, I bet you threw them a couple of naira notes, something to shut up all those infernal feminists.

That money means next to nothing to you, but money can’t buy you a conscience, or the power that you need to desperately to shore up your total lack of self-esteem. That is why you constantly need to rape children.

I wonder how you manage to live with yourself, how you cope with the self-loathing, the knowledge that you haven’t found what you’re looking for- love, self-acceptance, power… that you will continually search for these things inside of yourself and see…nothing because that’s what you are, what you’ll always be…NOTHING!

Iyawo Saara: In the Name of Religion, Tradition and other Evils

Iyawo Saara: In the Name of Religion, Tradition and other Evils

From the Editor’s Desk: Iyawo Saara is a term coined from the Arabic term – Sadaqh wife – translation: a woman (or as it is in most cases, a young girl) given out as alms in marriage.

I first came across this term in the late-eighties, when, as a child, I listened in as my aunt and herchild friends discussed one of their friends who had been kidnapped, in broad daylight, by a gang of thugs when they were on their way back from school. The other girls had fled the crime scene, eventually converging at the home of the parents of this particular girl. They had reported the incidence in tears, but to their surprise the parents hadn’t shown any concern, they had simply told my aunt and her friends to go home, they would ‘handle’ it.

They were gathered together that afternoon because my aunt and her friends, who refused to give up the search for their friend, had finally discovered where she was and why she had been kidnapped.

The story was simple, her parents had given her out as Iyawo Saara, because the girl was stubborn, the parents were afraid that if they allowed this girl to continue schooling she would become even worse. There were whispers about their daughter that she was a lakiriboto, (a lesbian) and to forestall such an ‘evil’ befalling their child, they had forcefully given her to a much older man, who already had several wives.

The fate of Iyawo Saara is a terrible one. This is due to the fact that because she had not been married off ‘properly’, in the ‘traditional’ manner of the Yorubas, she had no respect from her ‘husband’ or the members of his family. Therefore her position in the household is usually that of a sex slave and a drudge.

An Iyawo Saara is the lowest on the rung of ‘married women’, even lower than a mistress.

So, when I recently heard a story about a new ‘bride’ who was given out as Sadaqh earlier this year, I was in shock! This is 2015 and Nigerians still give out their daughters as alms. Unfortunately there was little or nothing I could do about it because I do not even know the girl in question personally, I overheard strangers discussing the fate of this poor girl on a bus rather gleefully. This girl’s story was similar to the above, she was stubborn, ran with a wild bunch of girls, according to the people on that bus heading to Beere, the ‘tipping point’ was when her father discovered she had gone and tattooed her arm. Her father had ‘given her the beating of her life’ and then bundled her off to a muslim cleric as ‘iyawo saara’. As at four weeks ago, they said she was still being ‘locked up for her own safety’, so she can ‘calm down.’

The enslavement of people is a criminal offence in Nigeria, but apparently this does not apply to women who have been given out as gifts into ‘marriage’.

I started asking questions about the legality of this act and if anybody had come across such heinous acts. My digging eventually led me to ask about ‘Iyawo Saara’ on Facebook. A few people came on my thread (as per usual the men) and said there was no such thing in Islam, but Adeola Opeyemi, one of the bright young things in Nigeria’s literary circles spoke up and said there is such a thing… below is her write up about Iyawo Saara: Sadaqh wife. Read and weep.

How does one describe this evil garbed in the cloak of religion and tradition?

In a small town on the outskirts of Ile-Ife, south-west Nigeria, I met Bukky (not real name) in 2012. She was a very young (probably in her late teens) new bride of a middle-aged man who lived not too far from my grandma’s house. While asking my grandmother how such a girl ended up with a man that old, I was told that the father had given her to him as a gift.

The girl’s father, in this case, happened to be a friend of the groom. I argued and raved. My octogenarian grandma’s stand, by the way, was different; she didn’t see anything wrong with the union. I persisted in emphasising that it’s a new age and that people shouldn’t do that shit anymore. But why should grandma even agree to that? It had been done nonetheless. My rants were mine and mine alone. My grandma didn’t care! Nobody I knew seemed to!

That wasn’t the first time I would encounter such marriage. Why would one even refer to that as a marriage? It isn’t! It’s a farce! A socially-accepted form of slavery and rape!

Growing up in Ilorin, a north central capital in the 90s, I saw a lot of marriages like that.

Unlike the ‘normal’ traditional marriage where there is a late wedding eve with songs and drums – all the pomp that could be mustered- and the bride accompanied to the groom’s house while her bridal train sang all the way, brides given as gifts are bundled up and delivered to the groom’s house like courier packages. The situation made further nauseating considering that the whole delivery is done in the night or in the early hours of the morning before sunlight. Pomp – any form of it – is definitely done away with in this form of marriage. The Nikkai ceremony or marriage proper for such give-away bride takes the form of a ‘visit of appreciation’ from the groom and his people few days after she has been given out.

Iyawo saara or Sadaqah marriage as this union is called, is a practice I thought had vanished with the 90s. I also used to think it only existed in the north and among the Ilorin indigenes who have always claimed to be descendants of the Fulanis and Hausas. I realized how wrong I was when I met Bukky in 2012. Bukky’s case made me realise this is neither a northern practice nor a dead one.

This practice of giving out female children as gifts originated from a misconstrued Islamic belief that the parents of a bride can decide to forfeit the bride price and give away their daughter, for free, in a case where the groom needed a bride but couldn’t afford the bride price. Like many misunderstood parts of the religion, a lot of people have comfortably ignored the fact that the Qur’an stated that the only way such marriage could be termed valid is with the consent of both parties (bride and groom) involved. Normally, a lot of people would argue that it is impossible to marry off a girl in this modern age without her consent but in a situation where the girl feels indebted to her parents or as the case is most times, she is petrified as to what could happen to her if she refuses her parents’ choice, it is quite easy to force such a girl into a union without her consent or with a consent given out of fear. When and how does the parents’ consent become the same thing as a child’s consent, especially in something as important as marriage?

While a cavalcade of Islamic scholars have and would continue to argue that such union is not a valid Islamic practice, we cannot ignore the fact that this is an act that is being practiced in the name of religion among Muslims.

It makes me wonder if a female child is the same as yams, rice, money or clothes to be given away to fulfil one of the five pillars of Islam – which is alms-giving.