By Francis Ewherido
“Cult leader insists on sex to initiate secondary school female members.” This news headline caught my attention in last week’s Saturday Vanguard. So many thoughts flooded my mind even before I started reading the story. Secondary school pupils…sex, secondary school pupils…cultism. Where are their parents? What went wrong?
The story said eight secondary school students, five boys and three girls, aged between 14 and 16, were arrested for being cult members. According to one of the girls, a 15-year-old, the leader of the cult, Sergeant, had sex with the three girls in his house before making incisions in their hands to draw their blood “and told us that we had joined his group.’’ Just like that. I doubt if sex was part of the initiation; the young man just wanted free sex with multiple partners simultaneously and “caught the three girls mugu.” This brings to fore the importance of teaching our daughters sex education and self-worth. A girl with self-worth does not surrender her body cheaply the way these three girls did.
It is likely this was not the first time these youngsters were having sex. So what if any of them is HIV positive? The rest of them would be exposed to infection (please spare me any talk about safe sex here). These girls have reached puberty, so they could get pregnant from this encounter. If that happened, they would not want to keep the pregnancy; they would probably go to quacks for abortion, which could lead to death or irreparable damage to their reproductive organs.
Later in life, when they get married and babies do not come, they call on the God of Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth to give them children; that God that opens the way where none exists, creates passages in the sea by
dividing the water into two; the God who walks on water. Alternatively, their mothers, who bore them in the womb for nine months and nurtured them till now, will suddenly become witches blocking their wombs.
I am old school and cannot understand what a 15-year-old is doing with sex. By all standards, she is a minor: she is not eligible to vote or possess a valid driver’s license; neither can she sign a contract. Her reproductive organs are not developed enough for motherhood, one of the end products of sex. Sex is a double-edged sword. You have the pleasure and the pain; these children get introduced to the pleasure, which I concede is indescribable, and forget the pain, the destructive aspect of sex: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unplanned pregnancies, single motherhood, vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), disruption of academics, etc.
Many parents need to sit up and do good parenting for the sake of their children, themselves and the larger society. The young lady said the cultists normally met every Friday in the school premises. The implication is that the cultists got home late every Friday. Every observant parent knows that schools close early on Fridays. Yet the parents never bothered to find out why their own children were coming home late on Fridays. Also, how can a 15-year-old hide his membership of a cult from observant parents over time? The parents of these children do not seem to have done a good job.
We cannot also exonerate the school authorities from blame. People’s teenage children left in their custody were derailing and what did the teachers and the school authorities do? Many teachers are so much into multiple streams of income that they abandon their primary job of teaching and the responsibilities that go with it. We know that after age 10, children tend to lean more towards peers than family, especially parents. But dutiful parents spend time knowing as much as possible about their children in the first 10 years. It is this knowledge that guides them in molding their children subsequently.
We live in an era when technology and modern ways of living are eroding parental influence in their children’s upbringing. It is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to do it alone. We need to go back to the communal lifestyle where parents looked out for one another’s children. We need that reciprocal support to create a better future for our children. Also, the schools, churches, mosques and other places where our children spend time need to chip in more support.
We (a body I belong to) had an issue sometime ago and needed to whip some recalcitrant youngsters into line. In the process we invited their parents. Two of the parents could not believe the tales of their children’s activities. They kept asking, “My Nneka,” “my Peter” (not their real names). Apparently, these youngsters were living double lives: meek lambs at home, ferocious lions outside. I had no qualms exposing them; I expect a similar favour from other parents.
We also need to bring up children to be street-wise. The pervading insecurity is making us to be overprotective and bring up timid children; it is not good for them, especially since they must get out someday and rough it out in the outside world. The way these three girls fell cheaply for the scam of the cult leader leaves much to be desired. Even if they wanted initiation into the cult, they should have been suspicious when the leader opted for the comfort of his home, not the bush where the group normally met, unless they also wanted sex.
Still on sex education, many of us are contented with educating our daughters only. We feel they are the ones who are more vulnerable and need protection. But boys need sex education as much as girls. Many predators and homosexuals are lurking, looking for young boys to sexually abuse. In addition, many teens look physically mature and very alluring and some old shameless mamas have developed a taste for them. You do not want your teenage son to be turned into a toy boy by women with dead consciences; you also do not want your teenage son to mess around with other people’s wives. Parents, shine your eyes, be wise.