By Felix Ajide
Stakeholders, including child rights activists, sociologists, lawyers and clerics have identified major factors behind the rising cases of incest in the country.
Some of the stakeholders, who spoke with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) across the states, identified lack of traditional family values, moral decadence, broken homes, emotional imbalance, shift in family roles due to poverty and ignorance among others.
In Ibadan, Mrs Foluso Adigun, the immediate past President of Women Connected By Purpose (WCBP), an NGO, said more incest cases were being recorded because of lack of family values and communal living.
She noted that economic hardship and the shift in the role of women were also contributory factors because fewer women now stay at home and watch over their children.
Adigun said infiltration of western influences and negative attitudes also promotes incest in the society.
Dr Sharon Omotosho, the Coordinator of the Women Research and Documentation Centre at the University of Ibadan, said parents must be held responsible for the abuse of their wards.
According to her, all hands must be on deck to stop incest because no member of the society is exempted from the scourge.
“Some people do it for spiritual purposes, money rituals and longevity or those looking for fame,” Omotosho said.
For Pastor Yemisi Ayorinde, poverty and lack of knowledge were major factors that promote incest.
She said: “Some mothers due to poverty and ignorance tell their daughters to keep quiet when they are being abused by their fathers.
A legal practitioner, Mrs Olusayo Adeleye, said that incest is considered a criminal act in the country and relevant laws must be enforced to deter potential offenders.
“The Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 in Section 25, criminalises incest and prescribes a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Adeleye who quoted various laws against incest, described it as a sexual act that can be said to be against the law of nature.
The rights activist urged the government to pass the Sexual Offences Act (Amendment) Bill 2019 in order to protect minors and under aged against sexual exploitation.
She further encouraged state governments to domesticate laws criminalising incest.
Mr Sunday Bamidele, a sociologist, identified broken home as the top ranking reason for incestuous relationships in the Nigerian society.
He told NAN in Akure that easy access to pornography through the internet could encourage siblings, who most of the times are left alone to engage in sexual intercourse
Olamide Falana, the Executive Director of Girls to Women Research and Development Centre, attributed lack of self-control on the part of parents, families and guardians for the “extreme increase” in the cases of incest in the society.
In Makurdi, some of the residents blamed the growing incestuous relations amongst families and close relatives on uncontrollable sex drives and demonic motives.
A Psychologist with the Benue State University (BSU), Mr David Denen, regretted that the habit was growing like a “wild fire in the wilderness”.
He said victims of incest turned to suffer depression as they live with the act throughout their lives without sharing such experiences with others.
Also, Magdalene Inarigu, a lawyer, said incest was a crime in Nigeria by virtue of section 3(1)(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act.
She said in Benue, those caught for such acts were handed over to the police for possible prosecution by the law courts in line with the relevant laws.
On her part, Mrs Veronica Daa’or, Founder of Elohim Foundation Makurdi, said the failure to bring such sex offenders to book or be identified was the reason for its continuity.
Bishop Joseph Masin, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and Alhaji Mohammed Ali, Secretary General of Ja’amatu Nasrul Islam (JNI), in the state, submitted that incest was against the teachings of both Islam and Christianity.
He also blamed the trend on lack of faith in the teachings of the Holy Bible, and called for a stiffer legislation to stem the practice.
Alhaji Muhammad Ali, Secretary General of Jama’atul Nasrul Islam (JNI) in the state, said he was disturbed by the rising cases of incest in the society.
“Allah made it clear in many verses in the Holy Qur’an the category of people one must not harbour amorous feelings for talk less of having sex with them.
In Jos, the parish priest in charge of St. Augustine’s Pastoral Area, Farin Gada, Rev. Fr. Stephen Ekpe, called for universal moral values to curtail incest in the society.
Similarly, the Amira (Leader) of the Federation of Muslim Women Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Plateau chapter, Mrs Muhibba Abdulrazak, condemned incest saying that Islam strongly forbade it.
Abdulrazak said incest was a big and unforgivable sin and should not be celebrated in our society.
Meanwhile, Mrs Mary Izam, the Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Plateau, the organisation was battling with lots of cases on incest ranging from fathers raping daughters, to uncles raping nieces.
She said FIDA is also dealing with cases of brother with a sister/cousin, or even a man sleeping with his wife’s biological sister is also incest because incest refers to sexual intercourse among members of the same family.
“We have also handled a case of a 15-year-old girl that is two months pregnant for her father who is 75 years old,” she said.
A Jos-based, Clinical Psychologist, Mr Paradang Gogwim, said children whom were victims of incest grow in fear and mostly lose confidence in themselves and people in the family.
Gogwim said children would develop trust issues with members of their immediate family which also extended to other members of the community.
He gave other psychological conditions as Post traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).
Also in Jalingo, Rev. Christopher Adekaa, Pastor in charge of the Glorious Living Church, condemned the act of incest in the society, saying that most of the incestuous activities were ritual-motivated.
Similarly, Utsaz Moddibo Adamu, an Islamic Scholar in Jalingo, said that drug addiction could influence incestuous behaviour in adults adding that that God was already annoyed with “our society”.
Also, Mr Kwanji Amoamoh, a psychologist, said incestuous activities caused a negative stereotype on communities where such behaviours were noticed. (NAN)