Sexual Abuse and The Girl Child. A study of Amma Darko’s Faceless and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE GIRL CHILD. A STUDY OF AMMA DARKO’S FACELESS AND CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

  • Background of the study
  • Many African female writers like Nwapa (1966), Emecheta (1981), Dangaremgba (1988), Mugo (1988) and Aidoo (1977) among others in their narratives attempt to recast women in more positive roles away from their marginal position(s). As a result, their texts are described by Nfah-Abbenyi (1997) as ―spaces of strength within and between which they fluctuate”. Concurring,  D‘Almeida  (1994)  considers  writing  by  women  as  a  ―weapon  to destroy the ideas that perpetuate subjugation and inequality”. Many literary scholars on African literature such as Stratton (1994), Steady (1998), Ogundipe- Leslie (1987), Emenyonu (2004), Oyeronke (2009) agree that works by African women writers are rarely discussed and seldom accorded space in canon formation thus making much of the African literature appear male-centred. This makes Leek (1999) argue that African women have been indoctrinated to envision the world from a patriarchal
  • It is not surprising therefore, that African scholars have now begun to include the concepts of sex, gender and violence in gender studies in order to understand how they play out in gender relations (Lindsay & Miescher 2003:1-3). Consequently, in the analyses of women authored work, amongst other themes, there is the need to explore gender-based violence and its portraiture in these works. This is beacause gender -based violence is a serious problem in many societies today and and a new area of investigation in literary criticism.This study therefore interrogates the depiction of gender-based violence in the Nigerian novel with reference to fiction by women in general and to Adichie‘s novels in particular and the role of gender in the propagation of violence. The study explores how the gender of a person contributes to inter /intra-gender violence in the selected novels.
  • Gender issues in every discourse are often divisive because of its sensitive nature and because the term ‗gender‘ is often used interchangeably with ‗sex‘.There is a clear dichotomy between both terms and scholars have since established the difference between them. While the term sex is the ―biological characteristics that define humans as female or male‖, gender is the  ―economic,  political  and  cultural  attributes  and  opportunities  associated  with  being male or female‖ (USAID, 2007). Gender is therefore socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. While sex and its associated biological functions are programmed genetically, gender roles and the

 

  • power relations they reflect are a social construct ,they vary across cultures and through time, and thus are open to to change. While sex refers to the anatomical difference between man and woman,  in  contrast,  gender  refers  to  the  ―social  aspect  of  differences  and  hierarchies between male and female‖ (John Macionis & Ken Plummer, 2005:309).
  • Thus, gender-based violence is violence that is directed against a person on the basis of gender. It therefore constitutes a breach of fundamental right to life, liberty, security, dignity, equality between women and men. Gender-based violence occurs in many parts of the world, within a home or wider community in general and it affects women and girls disproportionately (Bloom 2008:p.14). Although there are different types of violence like punching, bullying physical fights etc, gender-based violence includes domestic violence, rape, sexual violence during conflict, harmful customary or traditional practices such as forced marriages, genital mutilation

 

However, child sexual abuse in Nigeria is an offence under several sections of chapter 21 of the country’s criminal code. The age of consent is 18 (Ezeamalu, 2015). UNICEF reported in 2015 that one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18 (UNICEF, 2015). According to a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access, over 31.4 percent of girls there said that their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind (Akinlusi, Rabiu, Olawepo, Adewunmi, Ottun and Akinola, 2015). The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development reported that 1,200 girls had been raped in 2012 in Rivers, a coastal state in southeastern Nigeria (Ohayi, 2014). According to UNICEF, six out of ten children in Nigeria experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before the age of 18, with half experiencing physical violence (UNICEF, 2015).

On the other hand child sexual abuse or child molestation can be defined as a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. The forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring the child to engage in sexual activities such as child pornography and Commercial sexual exploitation regardless of the outcome. Child sexual abuse can occur in various settings such as, formal institutions, at home, parks, pathways among others. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stated that child marriage is the most prevalent form of sexual abuse of the girls. It is a global issue and affects both genders. Impact of child sexual abuse refers to the effect or results of sexual offences. The target group are the youth aged 16-30 years. (Woody 2012.). Impact of child sexual abuse among the children has resulted to various problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, self-harm, suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, eating and sleeping disorders among others (Taylor, 2014). The victimized individuals are usually deeply wounded emotionally after an assault. Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is a crime against children. It is largely underreported and commonly goes unpunished in our society as it is commonly perpetrated by close ones including family relations. Victims are left with the adverse sequelae associated with it sometimes for life.

As part of efforts to curb the increasing cases of sexual and other child abuses, it necessary to adopt Safe Kids Awareness Program for teaching of safe and unsafe touches to children in the state, making it child-friendly, developmentally appropriate, provides clear and positive messages about setting boundaries assertively, and generally teaches children without giving explicit information or scary stories, or even using the term “sexual abuse”. Children who are taught about preventing sexual abuse are more likely than others to tell a trusted adult if they have or are currently experiencing sexual abuse.

1.2     Statement of the problem

 

Picking from Faceless by Amma Darko and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and with what is going in our society; sexual abuse is everywhere – in schools, homes and communities. It occurs across all socio-economic levels, with 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys falling victim before the age of 18. However, only 3% – 5% of those cases are reported in Nigeria. Worse, is that children especially girl child do not generally know who to turn to when they are at risk or when they experienced abuse.

Sexual violence is a gross violation of children’s rights that occurs in every country in the world. In Nigeria, while there is a child’s rights act, domestication has been an issue with many states refusing to enforce the law. However, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, conducted a survey in 2017 and maintained that abuse against children is prevalent across the 36 states of the country. Edeh Suzan added that the “survey of UNICEF also noted that one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence, while one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence by a parent, caregiver or adult relative. For instance, Lagos State alone recurrently recorded more than 4,035 cases of sexual and child abuse. Out of 4,035 cases, the government handled only a total of 192 cases comprising 89 violence cases, 62 defilement cases, 18 rape cases, six attempted rape, 10 child neglect and seven child abuse cases. Ninety-two cases are currently being heard in court (Edeh, 2017).

In a bid to solve the problem of child abuse, the government stated in Child’s Right Act (2006) that, it is the responsibility of the state to take care of the children where the immediate parents fail to do so. It is also seen that the provision of basic amenities for the welfare of the child is also the responsibility of the state. These amenities are conceived in the area of health, education, recreation and legal services to ensure the optimal growth and development of children. In spite of all these opportunities/ promised by the government, there is still a great preponderance of child sexual abuse. Teenagers are still mal-treated, battered, neglected, trafficked, exploited and denied opportunities to attend access quality education and health care. This exposes them to teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, depression etc. Hence the need for this study.

 

1.3     Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to examine sexual abuse and the girl child: a reading of “faceless” by Amma Darko and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To analyze sexual abuse and the girl child aspect on novel faceless by Amma Darko and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun
  2. To describe detestable environment in faceless by Amma Dako
  3. To examine the effect of Sexual abuse among girl child
  4. To determine factors that aids sexual abuse
  5. To recommend ways of caring for the victims of sexual abuse.

 

 

 

 

1.4     Research questions

  1. To what extent would sexual abuse and the girl child aspect on novel faceless by Amma Darko and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun be analyzed?
  2. What is detestable environment in faceless by Amma Dako?
  3. What is the effect of sexual abuse among girl child?
  4. What are the factors that aid sexual abuse?
  5. What are ways of caring for the victims of sexual abuse?

 

1.5     Research methodology

 

This research is mainly empirical, using the conventional approach as the framework for our data analysis. The study of sexual abuse is given an apt attention in our analysis. Our analysis, though solely drawn from Amma Darko and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun: Faceless.

 

1.6     Significance of the study

 

The findings of this study will be of benefit to the following group of people: parents/care givers, policy makers/government and the society at large. The findings of this study may enable the parents to understand the effect a positive change of behavior. Finding of the study may also assist the policy makers/government to enact and enforce laws that promote and protect the right and well being of every child to know their right in the families and community.

Findings of the study may be use to create awareness and equip parents, caregivers and guidance. It will also help them to see the needs for proper child care in order to avoid outlive disasters. Findings of this study may also help the society to have knowledge about the effect and consequences of sexual abuse on child development and adolescents health.

 

1.7     Scope and limitations of the study 

This study is to discuss sexual abuse and the girl child analysis on novel faceless by Amma Darko and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. Due to limited funds and time, this research has faced many problems and limitations. The major problem acting as a limitation was due to financial constraints, the scope and size of this study could not be exceeded

 

 Sexual Abuse and The Girl Child. A study of Amma Darko’s Faceless and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun

 

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