Child grooming is a term that describes the befriending of and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions for child sexual abuse. Many young girls have been married off to older men or have been lured into predatory relationships through this tactic. Some of these girls are said to give their consent, but what does a child know? It’s our duty as parents and society to protect our children. Child grooming is unacceptable and people should be prosecuted for it. In my youth, I experienced child grooming by a man old enough to be my father. I probably would have been married at the age of 14 with loads of children and a truncated life had he not been stopped.
The child grooming started when I was about 14. There was a man about my father’s age who lived in our neighborhood. As is our cultural tradition, I treated him like a father. I would greet him whenever I see him and I never thought anything about his smiling to talk to me and ask me how I was faring. I was just 14 and reading novels was more on my mind than marriage.
Since my school was far from our home and I didn’t have enough money for transport, I had to leave home early to get to school on time. At some point, the man started to meet me on my way to school. I would greet him at the bus stop as we were all brought up to do, and he would pay my bus fare. After the first few times I grew wary. I hate anything free in my life – I still do. Sometimes I would sit in front seat and pay before he got the chance to pay for me. This went on for months and in the the process he started chatting me up and offering me money, which I would always refuse.
I became desperate to avoid him, but he would always be hanging around waiting for me. Of course, I couldn’t insult him or walk away from him, because respect for one’s elders is a critical part of our culture. This old man was a cloth merchant, and was incredibly wealthy by our standards. His children were always well fed and clothed. He would offer me money, more money than I had ever seen in my young life, money that was supposed to tempt a hungry child who had nothing. I would always refuese. One day, he forced the money into my hand and I let it fall to the ground.
I became desperate to escape that old man, but I could not. I switched to a bus stop further from my house, yet he found out and started following me there. I was hunted for over a year by this man and I didn’t tell anyone. Who was there to tell? I didn’t even think it was in my place to tell anyone. We didn’t have that closeness we have with our children today and I pray our children have more with their own children. After a while he started talking about marriage and how he would make my life enjoyable and also he would take me on trips abroad.
The old man even started giving food and money to my parents. Imagine what it was like for a starving family to get such assistance. He was adored in our house. This was classic groomer behaviour: buy the child, then try to buy the parents. Sometimes I try to imagine what would have become of me if I had not been so strong-willed at age 14. Would I have decided I wanted to marry him?
The harassment lasted for a long time, but eventually he left me alone when he realised I was not interested in his thoughts of marriage. When I was 15, he married an even younger girl of maybe 13 years. She was taken out of school to marry him. They had a daughter together, and years later they divorced. All this happened before I even got married at 24.
The old man has since passed away and is no longer a threat to me or any other owman. I cry when I think about this story, knowing how an old man had tried to trap me, and how he eventually trapped another young girl. I know what it was like to live with this harassment and fear. I know child groomers when I see them. When I hear about dirty old men saying a 14 year old decided to marry them, I see a child groomer who should be in jail for putting such thoughts in her head in the first place. Grooming a child with money, promises, love and hope should be made illegal. Many lives have been destroyed by it.
God protect our teenage daughters. They are an endangered species.
This is an original post for World Moms Network by Aisha Yesufu of Nigeria.
Photo courtesy of Phil Warren / Flickr.
6th September 2016 is the day that President Buhari of Nigeria decided to get his dictator skin back on by sending police to stop #BringBackOurGirls peaceful procession. This same President who during the elections campaigns had said, “so before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigors of democratic elections for the fourth time”.
The most annoying part of it is that sending police against #BringBackOurGirls movement instead of rescuing #ChibokGirls was the failing script left by the former administration of President Jonathan and to think that President Muhammadu Buhari would adopt that strategy is simply unbelievable.
#ChibokGirls were abducted from their school where they were writing their final exams on the 14th of April 2014. On the 23rd of April the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls started and 30th of April 2014 the physical demands for the rescue of #ChibokGirls started. Instead of the then government to respect the rights of citizens to make demands decided to attack and malign the #BringBackOurGirls movement. We continued with our demands undeterred knowing fully well that the rescue of #ChibokGirls is the responsibility of government and it’s the right of #ChibokGirls as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We continued with demands for our #ChibokGirls inspite of threats to our lives.
On May 29th exactly 410 days after abduction of #ChibokGirls a new government was sworn in after the incumbent government was defeated in the elections.
#BringBackOurGirls movement is administration neutral and does not demand rescue of #ChibokGirls from the President or administration but from the Nigerian government irrespective of who is President. We continued with our demands for #ChibokGirls still in captivity.
We have continued to demand for rescue of our #ChibokGirls who unfortunately sadly and painfully are approaching 900 days in captivity.
For the government of the day to begin to attack on our movement even to the extent of using armed police against us is quite sad.
The President needs to understand that it’s not bullets that brought him to power but ballots and the people that cast those ballots are the bosses. Seeing police coming out to stop us as we march peacefully to make demands for our #ChibokGirls was pathetically funny. Couldn’t they at least learn from the failing script left by former Commissioner of Police Mbu who tried to ban us from marching? Mbu tried stopping us where is Mbu today? Former President Jonathan government that hired thugs to stop us how successful were they? That President Muhammadu Buhari decided to go that route is sad day for democracy.
Hundreds of police men and women were sent out to stop us. One of the officers said to us that there was directive to stops us from moving from the Unity Fountain a place were we meet daily for Sit Out to make demands for our #ChibokGirls and that we should stay at Unity Fountain. When the Officer was asked directive “from whom” he refused to say. Police cannot infringe on our constitutional rights to peaceful protest. We cannot ask police for permission to protest. That would be disastrous. What the law asks is that the Police be given 48 hours notice of any planned peaceful protest and that we always comply with. The police we have in Nigeria unfortunately has allegiance to the President and ruling party rather than to Nigeria and Nigerians.
We embarked on our march and the only weapons we had were pictures of our #ChibokGirls. We surged on and when we got to where we were normally stopped when going to villa we met hirelings that carried Anti BBOG placards. I do hope they get their proper dues with all this talk of recession in Nigeria. Police that said it had banned all form of protest obviously forgot to add except when they have Presidential approval. The police looked sheepish when we asked them what explanation do they have for those who were there protesting?
We had no business with anyone coming to protest for or against anything. It’s a democracy and all are free to come and protest. We went directly to the business that brought us to the Presidential villa which was to paste the pictures of our #ChibokGirls on the wall of the entrance to villa. We went straight to work and did what took us there. When one comes with well coordinated thought out strategic plan one gets to work and doesn’t have time for distraction.
This I hope President Buhari would please take note of.
We did what we set out to do because we know our fundamental human rights.
I have a note for President Buhari:
The same way you kept coming back again and again asking for votes is the same way we would keep going again and again to demand #BringBackOurGirls and we would not stop Not Until Our Girls Are Back And Alive #NotWithoutOurDaughters.
The easiest way to get us to stop demanding is by rescue of our #Chibokgirls
#BringBackOurGirls NOW & ALIVE
I recently attended a wedding and observed one of our local customs that gave me pause. In a Nigerian wedding, there it is tradition for elders to offer marital advice to the new couple during the ceremony. Interestingly, in most cases, all the advice is directed to the bride. Is this because people believe that a man is hardwired with knowledge of how to make marriage work? Or because they feel there is no reason for a man to know anything about making marriage work? Or is it simply because most of the wedding attendees who give advice happen to be women? I watched as speaker after speaker gave the couple advice, consistently directed only to the bride.
Since the groom at this particular wedding received no advice, I thought I would offer some, just for grooms.
- Don’t be afraid to say I AM SORRY. Your wife may forgive easily, but this is no reason to keep offending her deliberately. Apologies should be sincere, and you should never apologize just for the sake of it.
- Make your wife feel important. Treat her like she matters, and be considerate of her feelings. Respect begets respect. My husband once said to me, “We are not just spouses we are friends.” Be sure to build a strong friendship with your spouse.
- Make family decisions together. Communication is key in every marriage! Don’t try to shield your wife from troubling situations. Instead, let her know what is going on whether with work, and let her share your burden.
- Be grateful. Appreciate your wife for all that she does, and never ever take her for granted. Always recognize her for her contribution to the family, work and household.
For marriage to work beautifully, I believe that BOTH parties must make a conscious effort. Most of all, the couple must set goals together, and review them regularly.
What advice would you give to a groom? Is it the same advice you would give to a bride? What are the wedding customs where you live?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.
Photo credit to the author.
“Mummy, is it Buhari’s fault that the economy is bad?” My daughter asked me this when she returned from school one day. She’s referring to Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria. “You must always call him President Buhari,” I corrected my daughter. Then I realised this was another opportunity to educate my daughter about economy and finances.
I told her it’s not President Buhari’s fault that the economy is bad, rather it is the choices we made as a country. I told her Nigeria is like a big family. Imagine that the father had a big job and they paid him a very good salary. In this family, perhaps the mother chose not to work because the father’s salary was so good. The family lived well, and often traveled abroad for holidays, wearing designer clothes. Everything they did was expensive. They had huge parties all the time. Their children went to expensive schools and they go abroad for treatment even for a simple headache.
The father earned well, but did not save anything and sometimes borrowed even more money to maintain their extravagant lifestyle. At one time some family members started stealing the money for their own personal enjoyment. They stole this money right out of the family account.
One day the company the father worked for was no longer able pay the father his big salary, so they gave him a pay cut. Remember, the father did not save when he was earning a high income. Remember, the family led a very expensive lifestyle. Remember, the mother had no job, so she couldn’t support the family. So, there was problem.
Eventually, a new father was brought in and the salary was reduced further and further. The family still had no savings and money was still being stolen from the family account. The new father found it difficult to support that expensive lifestyle the family was accustomed to. In this case, there would be economic problems and it wouldn’t necessarily be the father’s fault. In the meantime, the father must still deal with the people who stole from the family account, and try to recover the money.
“Do you understand now?” I asked. “Yes, I do,” said my daughter, and she went away, satisfied.
Our children know something is wrong and we need to explain to them what is going on. At a school meeting recently, I overheard a parent wondering how can she tell her child they can’t afford to pay school fees? I told them as parents you need to financially educate your children. This is not done in school, so it’s the parent’s duty to ensure that children are aware of economy and finances.
My children are part of our family’s economic life. They know what’s going on in our businesses and their father’s job. They know when things are good that we are investing, and they know why we invest. They know where the money for their school fees is coming from and what sacrifices were made to make ends meet. When business is bad, they know. At one time I thought we couldn’t pay my daughter’s school fees and I told her she had to delay a week or more before starting school (we always pay school fees before resumption date. It’s my personal stand). Luckily we managed to pay on time, but she learned that it’s a possibility and understands life sometimes throws a spanner into the works.
When we joined my husband in Abuja in 2011, my children’s school fees were fifty times higher than what we were used to paying. I had to sit my children down to explain that we needed to make sacrifices for their education. One of the decisions we made as a family was to reduce travelling abroad for holidays. So we did, and my children understood why.
In December, my daughter went to Europe for her school’s annual ski trip. She noted that there were a lot fewer students on the trip than previous years. My daughter also went to Wales this month for the Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Similarly, not all the students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh programme went for the expedition. I had to explain to her there was economic downturn and it was not easy for all families to afford such trips. At the moment, we are seriously worried about paying for education because our currency was losing value. She gave me a worried look and said, “God willing, everything will be okay.” “Amen,” I replied.
My daughter left the house a better-informed child. I hope that when she becomes an adult, she will be better prepared for economic and financial challenges because she learned about it as a child. As parents, we cannot shield our children from the reality of life. Let them learn from us and be more financially savvy.
How do you ensure that your children get a good understanding of your family finances?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.
Photo credit: Bob Ryskamp / Flickr
Even as I write this, there is a painful lump in my chest. It has been two years that our #ChibokGirls have been in captivity. I just imagine that the #ChibokParents die a thousand deaths every day thinking of the atrocities being met upon their daughters. Daughters they sent to school to get an education so that they can better their lives.
For two years now the Chibok parents have had to second guess their decision to send their children to school. A story of one of the Chibok mothers broke my heart. She managed to send her daughter to school after she lost her husband, and now she feels she was selfish for wanting her daughter to be educated and be able to help her one day.
What has happened to the Chibok Girls is heartbreaking, and too painful for words. Nothing makes sense to me anymore.
I have put off writing this. It is difficult to acknowledge and accept the fact that our Chibok Girls have spent two years in captivity. With a bleeding heart, I am forced to accept the reality on ground. Our Chibok Girls have been in captivity for 731 days – exactly 2 years, today.
Where is the outrage the world showed two years ago when 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their school where they were writing their final exam? Where is the outrage the world showed when 57 girls had to use various dangerous means to escape? Where is the outrage the world showed when we heard that 219 Chibok Girls were in captivity? Unfortunately, they are still in captivity, exactly two years today.
How can the world move on? The Chibok Girls have not been able to move on from the nightmare – not for a moment. They have feared for their lives every second, every minute, every hour, every day for two years.
Where are all the world leaders that promised to help rescue the Chibok Girls? Where are the celebrities that held the sign that said #BringBackOurGirls? The 219 Chibok Girls have not been rescued. Not a single one has been brought back home. Why the silence?
How can we tell the girl child to dare to dream? To aspire? To get an education? How can we tell her this when 219 of her sisters that went to school have been in captivity for two years? What moral justification do we have to ask a child to go to school?
By failing Chibok Girls, we have failed our own children, wherever they are. They wonder in their minds if they would also be silent if they were the ones taken.
We have continuously asked what is the crime of the Chibok Girl? Is it because she is poor? Is it because she dared to get an education? Or is it because she is a Nigerian? Would there have been more outrage and sustained effort to ensure she is rescued if she was from another part of the world?
I think of the Chibok Girls all the time. The horrific tales from those who have escaped or have been rescued have not been palatable. What has become of the girls who one day were laughing and being just girls and the next day were forced into a nightmarish world of being women forced to leave their homes and all that they hold dear?
Do the Chibok Girls even realise that they have spent two years in captivity? Do the Chibok Girls still hope that they will be rescued or will find their way home? Do the terrorists mock our girls, telling them that nobody will come for them? How do our girls cope with the fact that nobody has rescued them? Do our girls still hold onto hope? Indeed #HopeEndures but for how long can a child hold onto hope when they are being brutalised each day?
If your daughter was one of the Chibok Girls, what would you do? Have you done the same for the Chibok Girls? A terrorist attack against one is a terrorist attack against all. As long as one is attacked, we all are attacked. We have to fight for each other. When we do nothing, we simply embolden the enemy to keep attacking us. When it happens to another and we stand up for them, the enemy backs off.
It has been 731 days since the Chibok Girls have been abducted, and it has been 716 days that citizens have been demanding their rescue. We have made a vow that we will not stop – not until our girls are back and alive, and #NotWithoutOurDaughters.
We might not have carried the Chibok Girls in our womb, but they are our daughters. We will continue to make demands for their rescue until each and every one is accounted for.
Whatever anyone may think, standing for Chibok Girls is not doing them a favour. It is simply doing the right thing. Rescue for the Chibok Girls is not a privilege, but their right, per the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
World leaders must look at the Chibok Girls as their own. They must adopt them and fight for them as if they were theirs. The Chibok Girls are no longer children of the people from Chibok, neither are they just Nigerian daughters. The Chibok Girls are children of the world, and, therefore, the world must rally together and rescue its daughters from these monsters. These are beings who want to put a blight on humanity. We will hold on to hope knowing that the power of love will always defeat the hatred in them.
We will not allow a group of terrorists to define humanity for us.
The fight for the Chibok Girls is the fight for the soul of humanity. As long as 219 Chibok Girls are in captivity, humanity is in captivity.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.
(All photos courtesy of Aisha Yesufu. #2YearsOn image courtesy of #BringBackOurGirls. )
Chibok Girls Remain in Captivity
Hmmmmm…today is Christmas, as I write this, and for many all over the world it’s time for félicitation, a time for merriment and sharing. But for our Chibok girls and their families, it’s time to wail and cry silently, while putting up a brave face for the whole world.
Freedom of worship is what a lot of us take for granted. A confirmed right, but for our #ChibokGirls, alas, it is not so. Most of them we heard have been converted to Islam. Islam doesn’t need forced converts. There is no compulsion in religion says God in Qur’an Chapter 2 verse 256.
Why, then, would someone take girls, who, even in the rules of war islamically, are never to be attacked? And forcefully convert them to Islam?
World Mom, Aisha Yesufu, speaks as activists gather in Abuja continuing to demand the rescue of the 219 Chibok Girls captured in April 2013 in Nigeria.
While others enjoy Christmas, our Chibok girls are weeping silently in their hearts. They probably do not even know that today is Christmas. That would be the worst.
For 620 days our Chibok girls have been in captivity. Mocked by their captors that no one would come, and, indeed, no one did.
Our Chibok girls have had to spend another Christmas in captivity, while the world moved on and forgets that 620 days ago the lives of 219 Chibok girls were frozen in a nightmare they never envisioned. They were captured by Boko Haram when they set out to get an education. Young, educated girls, whose empowered voice the terrorists found threatening.
For daring to have a mind of their own by getting an education, they have been put in bondage for 620 days.
How are Chibok parents faring during this day of festivities knowing that their precious daughters are with monsters who have no drop of humanity in them?
How do they cope thinking of all the atrocities their daughters have had to endure this past 620 days? Ahhhhh…they must die a thousand deaths everyday imagining what their daughters have had to go through.
While many in the world are waking up today after celebrating Christmas with their family and friends, please remember the 219 #ChibokGirls who spent their second Christmas away from their loved ones and in captivity.
Please remember #ChibokParents who have had to celebrate a second Christmas without their daughters and struggle to put on a brave face for the other children. All so that the terrorists would not steal the joy of the season from their children the way in which they stole their daughters.
#BringBackOurGirls NOW & ALIVE
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.
Photo credits to the author.