Fausiat Bakare-Balogun explains how early sex education can reduce rape cases in Nigeria.
In a recent interview with Gold Nne on Lockdown Convos, Fausiat Bakare-Balogun, the founder of Health Communicators, gave a detailed and insightful breakdown of the role parents can play in drastically reducing the cases of rape in Nigeria.
What is Health Communicators about?
Health communicators is a platform targeted at educating girls and women about their bodies and general health. We sensitize women about domestic violence, rape, reproductive health issues, and the different things women face because of their gender.
I saw a post on your page where you told a story that you hated wearing sanitary pads and you started wearing tissue papers which resulted in infections at a very early age. Was that what necessitated the creation of Health Communicators?
A lot of things made me start Health Communicators. I felt there was a lot of information out there but a lot of people let it slip through their fingertips. I realized at a young age what I wanted to do and that most people do not have health information to keep safe and stay alive. I found that a lot of Nigerians were doing a lot of things the wrong way, especially regarding their health. It is always better to learn from other people’s mistakes than letting them happen to you. In light of that thinking, I decided to start Health Communicators to teach people, especially women and the girl child, about their health.
When is the right time for parents to have a conversation with their children about their bodies and sensitize them against rape and sexual molestation?
As a parent, you should start having the conversation with your partner immediately you get pregnant. You don’t just get pregnant and leave it to God. Discuss with your partner what you intend to do on speaking with your kids about their bodies, reproductive organs, and keeping them safe from abuse. We can no longer shy away from the reality that rape happens.
Choose books to read on child parenting because it is not easy being a parent. You should start getting guidance and information before you birth the child.
As soon as a child is one-year-old you should start teaching them about the different parts of their bodies. That is the first step to sexual education. Teach your children from a very tender age to pronounce their body parts appropriately. An example; if you have a son, you should teach him to call his male reproductive organ his penis, not an insect called Kokoro (like some parents from south-western Nigeria would teach their sons).
Also, teach your children to call relatives and neighbours by their name, not uncle or aunty. Instead, teach them to call them by their first names like Uncle Wale or Aunty Gloria. This is important because when a child can pronounce an adult’s name, the adult becomes scared of doing anything funny or suspicious to the child knowing that the child will speak out, calling the adult's name. These seemingly little things help the child from getting abused by people around you.
When your child clocks 2, start teaching him or her about the body parts that should be covered and the parts to leave open. Teach your child to know the difference between public and private body parts. An Example; touch your nose, can people touch your nose? Yes, they can. Touch your lips, can people touch your lips? Can they put their fingers or their lips on yours? The answer is No! These little tips will make your child smart, aware of his or her environment, and foster easy communication with you as a parent.
Do not wait till your child is 16-years-old and try to have a conversation about sex with them. They will not open up and would prefer to confide in their friends.
Concerning sex education, I believe there is a knowledge gap. The bulk of the masses still need a lot of orientation. Is there a way health workers, in conjunction with reputable organizations, are working on educating the uneducated women on the importance of having the sex talk with their children at a very young age?
I believe we have a huge gap to fill. A lot of people are trying to sensitize women but there is still a lot of work to be done. When we have a lot of women who are not exposed to these orientations, we would continue to hear horrible stories happen to our children. A lot of NGOs are reaching women but the government still has a huge role to play in educating women and children about sex. We need to take the message from social media to offline events where most of these women live. But all these will not happen without proper coordination and synergy, different organizations are embarking on this orientation but there’s no accountability. Therefore, everybody needs to come together- government, state actors, influencers, health workers, and NGOs to bridge the gap.
We can’t keep saying ‘say no to rape’ on social media! No one has ever said yes to rape or set out to be raped. Therefore, we must all come together to educate women and children about sex. This will, in turn, drastically reduce the cases of rape in Nigeria.