“My father used his manhood and finger to test if I was a virgin.” That was the shocking statement by a 12-year-old girl allegedly defiled by her father. She was speaking with a forensic expert, Dr. Oyedeji Alagbe, a consultant with the Mirabel Centre, LASUTH, Ikeja, who conducted a medical examination on her.
The Mirabel Centre is an organisation that has for long mounted a sustained campaign against sexual violence. The organisation also counsels and rehabilitates victims, while seeking justice for them, among other volunteer activities.
The girl said that her 35-year-old father, Mr. Emmanuel Idoko, a commercial motorcyclist, returned from work one day and told her that people said she was no longer a virgin and he needed to confirm the truth with his finger and manhood.
The girl said she resisted him but he persisted and even gave her drinks, which made her sleepy. It was while dozing in class one day that her teacher noticed the abnormal sleep and, after much persuasion, the minor opened up to the teacher. A report was made at the Ketu Police Station in Lagos, and the father was arrested.
Incest, the act of having sexual intimacy with blood relatives, is considered a crime and attracts a 10 years’ imprisonment. Yet people engage in it for different reasons.
A 46-year-old fashion designer, Wale Akanusi, who impregnated his daughter twice and aborted the pregnancies, said, after the atrocities were discovered: “It is not a new thing that a man had sex with his daughter. I did that to appease the gods.
“You see, when her mother was six months pregnant, we made love. She later told me that it was a taboo for a man to sleep with a pregnant woman in her place. She said the only remedy was for the man to be the first person to sleep with the child.
“I went to fulfil the oath. That was why I took her to the herbalist when she was pregnant, so as to appease the gods of her mother’s land. You will not understand. It is not a new thing that a man had sex with his daughter and even if I am jailed at the end, I will surely come out after serving my jail term.
“I initially did not want to do it. But, along the line, I discovered that things were not going well with me financially. And, when I made inquiries, I was made to understand that I had to appease the gods of her mother’s land, so that I would be able to make a success of my life.”
A 16-year-old girl that was allegedly impregnated by her father also narrated how the randy man administered an oath of secrecy on her before he deflowered her. She added that the suspect, Sunday Olanrele, used payment of her school fees as a bait to turn her to a sex object.
She said: “I thought he was a good father. He gave me kolanut to eat and said I would die if I revealed the secret. He started kissing and caressing me and later deflowered me. When blood started gushing out from my private part, he used diapers to cover it. I did not tell anyone because of fear.”
A few weeks later, the girl started showing symptoms of pregnancy.
“I took her to the hospital for pregnancy test and it indicated that she was four months pregnant. I requested to know who was responsible and she refused to tell me,” the mother said.
She then took her to a pastor, where she opened up. The angry mother said she was faced with the shame associated with the stigma on the family: “I am confused. I am ashamed of the stigma. The pregnancy is over five months now. So, abortion is out of it. I am in a dilemma now. I can’t procure abortion when she is already five months gone.”
The suspect, who admitted committing the crime, said he did not know what came over him that made him to deflower his daughter.
“I think it is the Devil’s plan to destroy me. I know it is an abominable act. I am sorry, I regret my action. Nigeria Police Force and my estranged wife should forgive me,” he said.
Sometime in 2017, Adoka, a district in Otukpo, Benue State, was thrown into confusion following the death of a young man identified as Inalegwu. The deceased reportedly drank a poisonous substance suspected to be insecticide after he allegedly put his younger sister, Ene, in the family way.
“He was accused of impregnating his own blood sister. People had been mocking him since the incident and he had been crying,” a source said.
A child rights expert, Mrs. Kim Adeogun, once said that most incest and child abuse cases were the aftermath of absence of a bond between mothers and their daughters. She added that families also contributed to it when they covered up such cases without informing the authorities.
“I have seen a case of a senior nephew sleeping with his younger cousin but, when the parents of the little girl discovered it, they swiftly sent the man to his family and the matter ended right there, to avoid family disunity,” Adeogun said.
Sociologists have observed that, among human practices, incest is the one most enveloped in myth and mystery. Thus the incestuous father is generally described as a degenerate, intellectually inferior individual, living in poverty, or an alcoholic with a low standard of morals and marked sexual pathology.
Incest is likewise described as occurring mainly in remote rural areas, among backward, primitive people. Though it has been recognised that statistics on incest are unreliable, and the practice is more prevalent than would appear, from police records, the feeling persists that incest is confined to the most debased, perverted elements in society, or the relics of more archaic, primitive modes of behaviour.
Dr. S.K. Weinberg, a sociologist, differentiates male incest into three main types: one, an indiscriminate promiscuity, where the incest is part of a pattern of sexual psychopathology; two, intense craving for young children, paedophilia, which also includes the daughter as a sexual object; and, three, the endogamic or intra-familial-oriented incest. An incestuous participant of this type is defined by Weinberg as “the adult … who confines his sexual objects to family members, resorts to incest with a daughter or sister because he does not cultivate and does not crave social or sexual contacts with women outside the family.”
Efforts to conceptualise incest before 1980 led to it being described as a sub-category of paedophilia. Some researchers believe that incest does not have a single cause, rather, it develops from a combination of influences.
Researchers agree that perpetrators of incest are more likely to be males than females, although a lot of evidence has emerged since the 1980s that some mothers sexually abuse their children. Fewer female offenders are willing to admit to committing incest and society may consider women to be sexually harmless. But it is important to recognise the increased opportunity that women have to perpetrate incest as primary caretakers of children.
Women in all societies are given a great deal of responsibility of raising children. With that comes control over their dependents. They are more often in charge of many intimate activities surrounding the care of the child, including things such as breastfeeding, putting to bed and bathing. Some cultures, where mother-son closeness is the norm, may have more occurrences of incest. For example, it is said some Japanese mothers initiate sexual acts with their sons after witnessing their sons masturbate for the first time in order to teach him about sex.
An Australian study of a clinical sample of male incest survivors found a number of factors most likely to influence the occurrence of sexual abuse of young males. They include living in a single-parent family headed by a woman of low socio-economic status, where the mother suffers from a schizophrenic illness and/or abuses drugs or alcohol, and where there is a history of violent parental behaviour. The study stated that women may commit incest for different reasons more than males.
Gender expectations and socialisations may vary for males and for female perpetrators, but this does not mean that one form of incest is less harmful to the victim than the other. Regardless of the type of perpetrator, incest perpetrators commit the crime for a variety of reasons. They often have poor skills in dealing with their emotions, demonstrate poor empathy skills, and display a marked inability to observe the behaviour of others. These perpetrators are often emotionally in a developmental stage equivalent to that of the child they are assaulting.
In a study of 75 male and 65 female sexual abuse perpetrators, the men and women showed no difference in educational levels, both reported their marriages as less stable than their parents’, and both reported their need for emotional fulfilment as being greater than their need for sexual fulfilment. Both offenders reported the least intrusive form of offending (exhibitionism, voyeurism, touching) to be more frequent than oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse.
Men as incest perpetrators are not a homogeneous group. In a study funded by a grant from the National Centre on Child Abuse and Neglect, researchers identified five distinct types of incestuous fathers: sexually preoccupied, adolescent regressive, instrumental sexual gratifiers, emotionally dependent offenders, and angry retaliators (Williams and Finkelhor 1992). This typology helps to foster better understanding of the motivations for abuse and may enable better treatment for incest perpetrators. It should be kept in mind that an offender may not fit perfectly into one type; most offenders are a combination of one or more types.
A group of genetic counsellors reviewed the research on the biological consequences of sex between relatives. They found a surprisingly small increase, about 4 per cent, in birth defects among children of married cousins. Incest between first degree relatives, however, was a different story. The researchers examined four studies on the effects of first degree incest on the health of the offspring. Forty per cent of the children were born with autosomal recessive disorders, congenital physical malformations, or severe intellectual deficits. And another 14 per cent of them had mild mental disabilities.
Hal Herzog, professor emeritus of psychology at Western Carolina University, said there were odds that a newborn child who is the product of brother-sister or fathered aughter incest will suffer an early death, a severe birth defect or some mental deficiency.