Archive for February, 2014

Sexual Abuse and our society.

The rate at which defenceless individuals have been sexually abused has increased in recent times. The lifetime risk of sexual assault has been put at 1 in 4-6 for women and it is now estimated that only 1 in 5 adult rapes is reported.
We have heard about how individuals, mostly women regardless of their ages, were raped by men. Early this month, there were news reports about a 50 year old woman who was raped and subsequently hacked to death by a gang of men in Ogun state. Just sit back for a moment and think of that woman. Only then do you understand. It was cruel. She didn’t deserve to die that way. Unfortunately, while these nefarious acts continue, it doesn’t seem like culprits are being brought to book. Many feel they can walk away freely after committing such heinous crimes.
Recently, I met a 10 year old female student who was brought for a medical examination following a case of sexual abuse. She had been sexually assaulted by her headmaster for the past 2 years. She had opened up to her sunday school teacher who subsequently informed her parents. She was not alone. She further pointed out she was not the only victim. Imagine the psychological torture she must have gone through, how she had managed to keep this to herself for years? The owner of the school brought her to the clinic and confirmed that during their internal investigations, many of her classmates admitted that they had also been victims during the last 2 years. This was a little girl who was being sent to school to get quality education but then ended up with this situation. When she recounted the events, her account was clear and precise. It was evident she was never going to forget her past experience in the hands of that man. This had left an indelible mark in her memory.
I asked about the suspect. And I was happy when I was informed that he was in police custody. So I was excited about the prospect of a court case and a possible sentence for the suspect. Then a bombshell was dropped. The mother of the girl and the proprietor of the school told me they wanted an out-of-court settlement. I gave up. This potentially could mean that man may be freed. It then dawned on me that our society is one that is very willing to sweep things under the carpet. If he is guilty, he should be put away from little children and women for a long time and not an unnecessary and ridiculous amicable settlement. The proprietor is probably more concerned about the effect a court trial could have on the fortunes of his school and the mother also would not want this to go public to “protect” the reputation of her family. These are possibilities. Don’t forget, Nigerians do not keep records. He could move to another school in a different state and continue from where he stopped. The young girls in our society will therefore remain at risk.
A part which nobody seems to talk about is how will this affect the young girl? How will this 10 year old girl interact with men when she grows up. She had been sexually abused remember by a man for two straight years. Is it not a possible that she could develop a hatred or phobia for men due to what she went through in the hands of her headmaster? If she suddenly feels safer with women with the belief that they cannot abuse her and becomes a lesbian; she could be imprisoned for 14 years due to the new anti-gay law while the man who molested her continues to walk freely. This is with total disregard to the fact that her society, through her headmaster, may have pushed her to it. Many people who have become homosexuals may have had a troubled past but this usually is never put into consideration.
Furthermore, a sexually abused individual suffers psychologically. Many experience fears and nightmares, insomnia and even shame and guilt. Many families never return to normal after a member of such family has been raped or assaulted. Long term effect of rape may include Post-traumatic stress disorder. And then there is the “small matter” of sexually transmitted diseases and of course pregnancy.
Our attitude to young girls who have been sexually abused sometimes are unreasonable. Most girls are blamed for their predicaments. It is not uncommon to hear the “very righteous” people say the girl was wayward. She always dressed indecently and hence served as a tool of temptation. We now know this is far from the truth. Women who are over 50 years of age, who dress decently, have been raped. Rather than blame the victim, the rapist should be brought to book.
Due to the fact that friends, family members and the society are usually judgemental of these victims, many never recover from the effects of the incidents usually due to a lack of support. For some, they may never report the case. They live with the stigma while the culprit lives on with his freedom intact and more members of the population remain at risk.
Finally, the sexually abused go through a lot, much more than we will ever know. I will love to see where individuals who carry out such evil acts are brought to book and made to face the consequences of their actions. Victims should be supported and encouraged to report these abuses to the appropriate authorities. Parents should be open with their children and willing to communicate with them on any issue. A child who knows that he or she can talk about any issue with the parents is more likely to inform them of his or her troubles. We should not judge them. It could have been you or me. That little girl could even be your daughter.
Have a nice day

Uche H. Okafor


Words of the Day.

Socrates: “My advice to you is get married. If you find a good wife, you will be happy; if not, you will become a philosopher.”

Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher.

Uche H. Okafor

Drug Addicts are the victims.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was a talented American actor and director. He was also an Academy Award Winner. It was therefore a shock when it was announced that he had lost his life to drug addiction. Large amounts of Heroin and a number of prescription pills were found. This was one of the many tragedies that had befallen individuals due to the use of illicit drugs and abuse of prescription pills.
Unfortunately, there is a high possibility that many more deaths could occur in the future as a result of drug addiction. Many individuals now see these drugs as a route of escape from their many problems. The pressure is intense, many had difficult times growing up at home and many have succumbed to peer pressure. It is now common to see people purchase these drugs at exorbitant and ridiculous amounts. Some may resort to stealing to keep up. Celebrities, behind all that classy pictures painted in public, are also significantly affected. We only want to see the beautiful parts of their lives but many are also afflicted with issues of drug addiction. The pressure of keeping up with their new found fame and the associations they keep make them easy targets. These drugs keep them going. A day without these substances feels like a day in hell. That is what addiction does. In many cases, their bank accounts take a significant hit.
I have seen individuals who could not stay at work or continue working beyond 10am if they had not had a stick of cigarette or other substances which they have become addicted to. Codeine seems to be a new trend now. Hence, the popular cough syrup, Benylin (with Codeine) is no longer a cough syrup. When you see someone practically drinking that cough syrup repeatedly like his or her life depended on it, you will get a better picture of what I am trying to say.
The dangers of drug addiction cannot be over emphasised. We now know that addicts, whether friends or foe, take these substances together. It is not uncommon to see more than five addicts sharing needles to get these drugs injected into their bloodstream as this way it has a faster onset of action. Sit back for a minute and think about the dangers of that alone. Then you begin to understand the implication. These drugs can cause respiratory depression and even death if the individual is unlucky. If the individual is relatively lucky, so many diseases could be gotten from sharing needles and syringes. These include various forms of Hepatitis Virus, HIV/AIDS and many others. Many also end up engaging in unprotected sexual practices which are usually unplanned because some of these drugs fuel sexual desires.
I’ve been made to understand that there are many drug rehabilitation centres in Nigeria but the big question is, how many of them function at optimal capacity? Or better still, how many of them function at all? It is not uncommon in the Western World to see addicts get admitted in rehab centres for long periods as they seek help. There seems to be a conscious effort to try and assist them in getting over their addiction. Many are lucky and never relapse. They come clean and ultimately, a life is saved.
Over here, it is not so straight forward. Only very few people (mostly health professionals) have an idea of where the rehabilitation centres are located in the country. And many of these centres only act as artifacts, as an avenue and means to steal public funds rather than been a tool to help these troubled individuals. We also do not have a quality programme which effectively educates individuals on the dangers of consuming these illicit substances and informing addicts of how and where to seek help for their addiction. We only have few posters and billboards thrown hundreds of kilometres apart nonchalantly telling us that drug kills and that it is also an offence to take them.
Sadly, rather than offering help to these individuals, drug addiction has been criminalised. Anyone seen taking these nefarious substances are arrested, locked up and subsequently beaten. Could they have been taken to one of the rehab homes? Arresting an addict does not cure the addiction. It is common knowledge that members of the law enforcement agencies are not exactly saints. Individuals arrested for consuming drugs could be released after paying a “token” to these officers of the law. Hence, some never get to court. It ends at the police station. He then goes back to his old ways until he meets his end.
Drugs are illegal but the major culprits should be those who ensure these drugs remain in circulation. Tougher sanctions should be meted out on drug dealers. They are perhaps an important reason this trend is on the increase. Drug dealers do not kill people but they provide them a mean which could take their lives and hence should take some form of responsibility.
Russel Brand, a drug addict in recovery, summarised it nicely. In his words,“If drugs are illegal, people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us no solutions and greatly increases the problem.”
Philip Hoffman’s death and many others before him reminds us of the fatal dangers associated with addiction. He died alone with no one beside him. Think of those many addicts, the ordinary man or woman who has succumbed to addiction. Addiction is an illness and only when you come to terms with what it does to these individuals will you truly appreciate how grave the situation is; how it kills them slowly and gradually take away everything they have including their fortune, family and friends.
Finally, our youths must be educated on the dangers of taking these drugs and dealers must be clamped down with ruthless efficiency. Addict should be helped to get on the long road to recovery. Functional rehabilitation centres should be established and affected individuals encouraged to use them. As a community and country, our attitude also has to change. They should not be discriminated against.

Uche H. Okafor

Conficius: “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”

Conficius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese History.

In many parts of the world, poverty has become a significant and important member of the society. There seems to be a total disregard of the plight of the masses. The leaders seem more interested in increasing the level of their wealth.
I’m confident things will surely get better. The only problem is when? Soon hopefully.

Uche H. Okafor

Words of The Day.

George Burns: “Don’t stay in bed unless you can make money on it”.

George Burns (1896-1996) was an American comedian, actor and writer.

It’s a new day which offers plenty of opportunities. Let’s grab it.

Uche H. Okafor

Views change quickly in football. It is common knowledge that a football manager is only as good as his last result. Reactions to results at any stage of the season tend to change, swinging from euphoria, anxiety, disappointment and sometimes to pure delirium. It was not surprising to see fans calling for Wenger’s head after the debacle at the Merseyside.
Arsenal was poor today. And that is putting it mildly. The defeat was deserved and very comprehensive too. And that is what you get when your players play as poorly as ours did today. It was a total thumping. The starting eleven today at Anfield was more than capable to give Liverpool a run for their money. They were embarassingly inept, playing like nothing was at stake. When Ozil kept giving the ball away as frequently as he did today, then you realise we were in for big trouble today. All Arsenal needed to do to handle Liverpool’s high pressing was swift purposeful forward passing and use the OX as an outlet. We failed to perform the very basic skill of passing. Today, the players let down the fans, the club and the manager.
Unsurprisingly, my timeline on Facebook and twitter has been filled with fans calling for Wenger’s head on the back of this defeat. In case, we have forgotten, this is the same man who has kept Arsenal close to or at the top for a very long time this season and is currently just one point off Chelsea. It is now a recurring event to see fans slate Wenger whenever we lose and hail him as a genius when we win. He is seen as the sole reason why we have won nothing.
The manager can do very little if his players refuse to turn up or show any desire during the game. It’s one week of preparation thrown out of the window. After all, you can take a horse to the stream but you cannot force it to drink water. This was probably one of those games when the manager would have taken off all eleven players at half time if he had the chance. A worrying aspect in our game recently has been our inability to start as strongly as we did against Napoli. We tend to believe we can up our game in the second half. Do I believe it’s an excellent tactics? Not exactly.
Injuries have not helped either. Perhaps we missed the passion and fight of Flamini with the drive and determination of Ramsey. But no need for excuses. Every team has injuries. It is just a function of how you manage them over the season that matters. We have shown we can do that over the last 6months.
We could have brought in a striker during the recent transfer window. The “Draxler-mania” seems to have died off a bit. But would an injured Draxler have scored five goals today at Anfield and helped us win 6-5? Transfers help but if we cannot bring in quality players, then it is important we bring in short term solutions or no one at all. The difficulty in offloading Chamahk, Park and the World Greatest (Bendtner) must act as a constant reminder to us on how funds can be wasted on wages and transfer fees whenever we panic in the transfer window. Only someone with proven quality or potential to improve should be bought.
This defeat offers valuable lessons. It shows anytime we have an off day, we will be punished. It is high time Arsenal stood up and be counted. For 25weeks, we have managed to stay among the frontrunners, this is certainly not a time to feel sorry and blow this chance. The league isn’t won in February luckily. Man City dropping points today offers hope that this league is far from over and we can have a say in this league if we get our acts right.
Finally, the Arsenal fans must support the team and stop sounding like people expecting an implosion. The players need to give us something though in the next game. Today was a mess. The league is a marathon, and not a sprint. Time to get ready for Man U.
Have a nice day.

Uche H. Okafor