In the news a few days ago girls from Queens college Yaba Lagos protested an alleged sexual assault against one of their teacher Mr Olaseni Oshifala. A report alleged that Oshifala had molested a JSS 2 pupil while in a drunken state when she left her hostel to use the toilet.
A number of reactions has continued to pour in since this protest. There are those who are in support of what these girls did while another group believe that the protest was needless and an abuse of the students whose parent’s permission were not sought before embarking on the said protest. Some others believe that it is an attack on Mr Oshifala’s “good reputation”. While the matter is still been investigated to get the details of what is true and what is not true, i say there is no smoke without fire.
In my own opinion something must have been happening and no one had been listening. Whether it is a Mr Oshifala or another teacher who might have been sexually molesting some girls in the school, certainly proper attention had not been paid to protect girls from this kind of abuse. Most times when a teacher whom a girl look up to start making sexual advances, the question of who to tell is a big issue.
I remember while in secondary school we had a very brilliant and supposedly disciplinarian teacher whom every student feared and respected. He had this seemingly untainted image but unknowingly to the school authority he had eyes for some of us girls. A close friend of mine was molested by this “Mr nice and disciplined teacher”. He would summon her every now and then to his office and blab about nothing tangible. My friend started to talk to us about her concern and we all became worried. We didn’t know who to tell; none of us wanted to be victimized or thought of as wanting to mess up the good image of Mr intelligent and brilliant. One day he even tried to make out with her and she had to run around in his office with him chasing her until she managed to escape. She told us again and still we couldn’t tell anyone. We all finally decided that whenever Mr nice and intelligent sends for my friend one or two of us would accompany her to his office. If he did not allow us in , we made sure he knew we were outside. It was a case of standing up for each other applying our own little girly wisdom. Mr Nice did not get any further at molesting my friend but who knows how many other girls he successfully sexually harassed during our time and after we graduated to various tertiary institutions.
My point is this, girls who are sexually molested in our secondary schools don’t always have someone they can talk to when facing sexual assault or molestation. It is only very few of these cases that gets attention.
This is the first time i will hear about school girls protesting about charges of molestation even though they said the Mr Oshifala was not guilty of the offense. Sexual assault of female students by their teachers is as old as the start of education itself. No girl would dare report these cases. It is unheard of in our African/Nigerian culture.
In my day we could not report our Mr Nice and intelligent. Do we have to wait until things get out of hand before school authorities put in place measures that allows for report and redress of cases of molestation by teachers or anyone in school?
Society always think that kids are not able to or should not speak up for themselves! I say if us adult are not protecting them as we should then they have to shout to be heard. I believe that there is something to be concerned about in this protest. Instead of shutting the issue down through blame game, all those concerned with addressing the issue should investigate this matter and ensure that sexual molestation is stamped out now. Remember tomorrow it my be your daughter or grand-daughter or even niece.
Time to start listening to our children.
Photo Credit: http://www.punchng.com