by Alabi Adewale
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica;
Paedophilia is a psychosexual disorder, generally affecting adults, characterized by sexual interest in prepubescent children or attempts to engage in sexual acts with prepubescent children.
It is a disorder that cuts across race, gender and sexual orientation. Coming down to Nigeria, paedophilia is a big issue that is hotly debated. A sitting senator, Ahmed Yerima, actually married a 13-year-old girl.
One would think he would have been arrested and removed from his position. Alas, Nigeria is a land muddied in corruption so that did not happen. Many young girls are married off into heterosexual relationships even before their 18th birthday- the actual age of consent in Nigeria.
However, this post is not about heterosexual relationships but dating and romance in the LGBTQ+ community. It has been observed by some members of the community that some older queer individuals groom and defile minors who are not emotionally developed to navigate a relationship with an adult.
The gay community, in particular, is filled with stories about grooming and many, who are now adults, have also recounted their ordeal in the hands of adults who defiled them when they were young.
Unfortunately, paedophilia in the queer community is not as spoken of because the victims are often in secretive relationships which they rarely talk about with anyone due to the homophobic nature of the country. Often times, perpetrators take advantage of these in coercing their victims. A tweet from @Dennis_Macaulay best describes this situation;
Paedophilia in the queer community not only hurts the victims but also queer people at large. This is because Nigerians use it as a cheap shot against queer people, despite the fact that paedophilia amongst heterosexual people is so rampant in the country.
What then is the way forward on this issue?
First and foremost, we need to dismantle homophobia. The culture of secrecy makes paedophilia thrive and if not quickly checked, may lead to a lot of broken adults, both straight or queer, who could find it hard reconciling who they really are with the trauma of their past.
There are cases where some men who were traumatized in childhood, move on to become homophobic crusaders because they were not necessarily queer but were taken advantage of by queer predators- though this is not an excuse to be homophobic.
If queer people are given the freedom to be with whom they want to be with, it may make it easier spotting and addressing gay paedophiles who cannot hide under the cloak of secrecy and fear-mongering.
The freedom that comes with granting queer people their freedom also removes the shame associated with being queer. Therefore teens and young children, regardless of their sexual orientation, may find it easy to speak out whenever an adult may be trying to groom them.