International Labour Organization (ILO) Deputy Director, Hopolang Phororo (pictured) has underscored the need for sexual abuse victims to be courageous and break the silence in order to get support to deal with associated physical and psychological effects.
She made the remarks recently in Dar es Salaam during the launch of her book ‘Joy Comes in the Morning’ published by Mkuki na Nyota. In the book, she discloses a most emotional incident where she was sexually abused by a close relative while still a young girl.
“… I deliberately allow readers to enter into the world of sexually abused teens…” they then, under her literal guidance, travel with a girl through the emotional journey to emerge triumphant as a woman healed.
To do so, the deputy director had to be, in her words, “…open and candid with my emotions, how I battled to retain confidence and overcome challenges…”
Phororo said that in most African countries the process of receiving and handling cases of abuse are abusive in and of themselves and end up re-traumatising children and their families. She highlighted two factors that contribute to poor handling of child abuse cases as, lack of skilled service providers and the chauvinistic legislative system.
“Globally...” the deputy said, “…150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact!”
She went on to lament on the tragic matter saying children continue to be sexually abused in total silence. She shared her deeply moving experience saying “…I thank God because I am able to stand in front of people with joy healed of a past that deeply scarred me for so many years.”
Fatma Mrisho Chairperson, Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) said the book was a world of heart wrenching emotions summed up ingeniously in a narration that is itself an advocate for human rights.
Offering the staggering statistics she reminded Tanzania that “…an unacceptably large number of teens between 13 and 24 years have been sexually abused by family members…26 percent of females and 20 percent of males have experienced sexual violence…more than half among these have experienced the problem before they were even 13! ”
Dar es Salaam and Mbeya were noted as epicenters of the tragic tendency. “Mbeya…” she said “…the problem persists by shocking 40 percent…” and that she explains is despite the under reported nature of the case.
She acknowledged that sexual abuse is a global problem and that there remains profound stigma attached to it which is in part why most won’t break the silence. She offered an encouraging word to the many suffering in silence, advising them that, “…talking about it helps with the healing process and is the first step towards some form of closure.”