Mrs. Christie Bature OGBEIFUN, the chief executive officer of 180 Degrees Rehabilitation Centre, Port Harcourt was part of the civil society coalition against child abuse tagged, “Anti Child Abuse: Stop the Rape and Save a Child,“ which held in Port Harcourt June 27, 2019 in response to heightened incidents of child abuse, especially sexual abuse in the state.
National Point’s Gift Jonah who was part of the rally that saw activists marching from Isaac Boro Park to the gate of the Rivers State University, Nkpolu Port Harcourt, interviewed Mrs Christie Ogbeifun.
Please introduce yourself and your center
My name is Mrs. Christie Bature Ogbeifun, I run 180 Degrees Rehabilitation Centre in Port Harcourt. I have been doing this for about 16 years. We were out patient based until five years ago when we became residential. So we help drug addicts, sex addicts, trauma patients. We help patients of other forms of addiction except food addiction.
You know we are talking about child abuse now in Rivers State.How will you rate the situation?
I won’t have an exact figure but I know that it is terribly rampant, it is terribly unfertile, and abuse is in many forms.Today we are focusing more on sexual abuse but there is emotional abuse, there is physiological abuse, there is financial abuse, there is spiritual abuse, all kinds of abuses than the physical ones too. So I will say the numbers are really, really high, and part of it is because of the African culture; we are disciplinarians, nothing wrong with discipline, but I think parents need to be taught how to discipline within the context of discipline and not cross into the realm of abuse.
So what is the impact of child abuse, especially sexual abuse on the individual male or female?
The effects are many, once a child is molested it constitutes personal trauma and in addition, we talk about three main doorways; one is the society, two is family dysfunction and three is personal trauma.
Any of these will pre-dispose the person to struggling with addiction in the future. Now you know that most times when a child can be abused is always indicative that there is family dysfunction. So for most people the two are going on at the same time and then they step on the society and the society is endorsing what is wrong. So, the child is more or less doomed before he/she even has a chance to stand. So the effects are terrible, most child molesters, adult child molesters, were themselves molested as children; this happened to them as children and they grow up to perpetrate what was done to them in their own adulthood and it can lead to depression,.
It can lead to even criminality, the pain in the soul would be looking for medication and sometimes the medications are drugs, sometimes it is sex, sometimes it is violence. We cannot even begin to pinpoint all the different ways that sexual trauma can affect the person in life. There are too many possibilities, it can impair educational performance, it can impair intelligence, it definitely would impair emotional intelligence and that is one of the things they are selling now as the biggest thing in the market place- emotional intelligence. But if you are already stunted emotionally you can’t bring that to the table when you are out in public.
So when can we cure this, how can we address this?
Education, education, education! Awareness, this is a good thing happening here today, awareness, awareness, awareness. The law has to come into effect; the law enforcers must enforce the laws that have already been drawn out. We have a law against child hawking, don’t you see children hawking? Where are the law enforcement agents?Who are the ones that are enforcers of the law? Why are the laws not enforced? These are some of the reasons these things continue because there are no consequences and even if they are, they are very mild or they come so much after the incident, it is of no effect at all.
#Gender Accountability and Transparency Project (GAP)
Constance Meju is publisher of Port Harcourt based National Point Newspaper and Gender and Human Right Justice advocate