I don’t know about you but when I was growing up, I was taught to respect everyone. Every adult was like my own parent. They had the right to punish me and my siblings whenever we misbehaved and reporting them to our parents only attracted additional punishment, hence confirming the saying, “In Africa it takes a whole village to raise a child.”
A few decades later, we picked up the never- talk- to- a- stranger attitude. While this is done out of concern for our children’s safety, it creates unusual distrust. I noticed this when my 16 year old niece started avoiding me. Whenever we bumped into each other, she looked at me with suspicious eyes. When I asked what was troubling her, she confessed that she didn’t know who to trust.
“First, I was told never to talk to strangers and I did just that. Then I was told that grown men are not to be trusted because of the issue with sugar daddies. These are big men who offer money or gifts to younger girls in return for companionship or sexual favours. Mum said these men go for young, untarnished, naive girls. To them that is a thrilling experience - a game that makes them feel young again. I became suspicious of everyone and whenever I come face to face with any man; I try to avoid him as best as I can. I can’t even let my pastor lay his hand on me head while praying.”
“Lately, we were told to be very cautious of all male relatives. We were told that many cases of defilement involve close male relatives, married men or known people in the community,” said the misty eyed girl.
Though it’s good to keep young people in the light and warn them of the lurking devils dressed as men, we also have to remember that their brains are like sponges, they absorb everything that they are told, everything they see and hear.
So I think we should do more than just scare them and give them some really useful information regarding this issue. And to every man out there – these are our daughters and sisters. It’s our obligation to keep them safe and be the true parents or guardians we certainly can be. Otherwise they will grow up distrusting every male human being and that’s not right.