“Face-me-I – Face – You” houses are overcrowded living quarters where occupants share bathrooms, kitchen and compound. It is not uncommon to see a family of ten share just one room. It is a community of constant fights and chaos. People who live in such a place are usually low income earners who struggle to make ends meet.
I remember we once lived in a face-me-I – Face- You compound while growing up. My father would insist that we do not go out of our house to play with children of other tenants in the compound. Instead we were kept busy reading our books and doing our little house chores. He then went a step further to purchase a betamax video cassette player and lots of cartoons to keep us busy. These we will stay glued to whenever our parents were not around.
One time I made the mistake of getting involved in settling fights between two children in the compound. I got the spanking of my life! Why because my dad did not want us to keep bad company plus I was supposed to be home already with my siblings after attending an evening coaching lesson. So you see it was getting dark and my poor dad didn’t know I was somewhere in the compound so he went in search of me at the lesson afraid something bad had happened to me. Hmmm… I will never forget the discipline I got.
Little did I know that my Dad was only trying to protect us from horrible things that could happen to girls like I and my siblings. I was under ten years and I had two other sisters as at that time. As soon as dad could afford it he got us an apartment with more privacy in safer environment.
Later I got to know about girls who were sexually abused by neighbors. Some of the perpetrators were young boys their age or male adults.
We were protected by our very vigilant parents who knew better. Unfortunately many parents of children who live in face-me – I – Face – You are so careless and some just don’t know the dangers lurking around to grab their daughters.
I have come across horrifying stories that I don’t want to even begin to talk about here. Everyday one girl is waylaid in her community and sexually abused. Most times it is one old man or silly boy in the compound/next door who abuse such vulnerable girls.
What is the way forward here? Why am I ranting? There is a serious need to educate parents at the grassroot level to pay more attention to the safety of their children.
Any practical suggestions of what we can all do? While at it please educate as many people you happen to meet in your community and neighborhood about this.
Girls need to be protected from sexual predators. It starts with you.
Adebisi Adetunji (C)