Child sexual abuse is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as, “the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society. Just like the girl child, it is evident from the definition that the boy child is also prone to suffer child sexual abuse.
In addition, personal interactions with male adults have shown that the boy child can be sexually abused as a minor and such incidents are often not reported by male victims. This is further supported by the mere fact that out of the total reported child sexual abuse cases amounting to 577, only 10 of these were boy victims (2022 Police third quarter gender-based violence statistics). This goes to show how the male child is often abused in silence and no reports are made by them, because the reality is that such abuse in boys is very likely much higher.
Unfortunately, society has contributed to the male child being sexually abused in silence. This is because of societal myths, such as: boys cannot be sexually abused; or, if a female abuses a boy, he was “lucky”. Such stigma causes male victims to suffer abuse with nowhere to turn to. Safe spaces must be amply created to enable the male child, to speak out without being judged by society and risk their sense of masculinity being broken.
How often do we speak about these myths with the hope of changing them? How often do we intentionally talk to our male children about sexual abuse? Do we intentionally keep our eyes open trying to protect the male child from abuse as we would the female child? Now please do not get me wrong, being a woman myself, I do take note of the fact that the female child is more prone to sexual abuse as statistics highlight and must be protected. However, I pose a pertinent question: have we perhaps neglected the boy child in our fight and efforts to adequately protect the female child?
Sadly, the year 2022 has seen a rampant increase of gender-based violence (GBV). This GBV has taken the form of sexual abuse, defilement, and rape. One of the major concerns being that this abuse is now taking the form of sodomy as males abuse fellow males.
On the 5th of March 2022, shocking and horrifying news was released of a ten-year-old boy, living with autism, who was sodomized by a twenty-five-year-old man in Lusaka’s Chunga compound. Sadly, the boy’s mother narrated that she discovered the incidents after she found her son crying in pain, and further questioning revealed that the son has been abused on countless occasions.
Further, on the 22nd of June 2022, news was told of two more boys aged two and four who were also sodomized and abused on several occasions with a promise of sweets, by a twenty-eight-year-old man.
On 30th of August 2022, another heartbreaking audio was sent out by a grieving mother giving an account of how her six-year-old son was sodomized. The mother was vigilant enough to discover the horrifying abuse that had occurred to her son and pleaded with others to pay attention to their sons.
In September 2022, only two months ago, another case was reported of five schoolboys being sodomised by three older male pupils that learnt the practice from an elderly Indian man who was residing in the school premises and who sodomized them.
The above is only a fraction of the many incidents of boys being abused, sexually assaulted, and defiled. Every child has the right to be protected from violence, abuse and from being neglected. Article 34 of the Convention on the Right of a Child provides that the state should protect children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, including by people forcing children to have sex for money.
Chapter One Foundation implores the state to do everything in its power to curb sexual abuse and to protect both the female and the male child. However, this responsibility should not fall on the state alone, we all have a role to play in creating a safe space for every child. As the saying goes, “it takes the whole village to raise a child”.
Chapter One Foundation is a human rights Organization that promotes and protect human rights, human rights defenders, constitutionalism, and the rule of law in Zambia. Please engage with us on all our social media platforms. We are at Chapter One Foundation on Facebook and LinkedIn and @CofZambia on Twitter and Instagram.