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When I saw this picture, I remembered how boyhood hurts. How we were planted in the hands of abuse; lost sisters and uncles. How our parents thought we were old enough to man ourselves, to find our way; so they gave us a weak freedom. They gave us freedom to our doom. The freedom that would kill us later in life. Those pains still remain part of me. The pains of those BoyChild endangered in the hands of Auntie. Those boy children tampered like broken glasses, strong enough to hold their shattered bodies, thoughts, feelings and emotions together without breaking them; without telling their parents because society stereotyped them. Society foisted heroic names on them.
I wonder why parents always thought we were stronger when the other part of us seeks help and support. I wonder why they take so much consideration in keeping the GirlChild together. Teaching them how to sit properly. Teaching them how to rebuke a man that touches their body, especially their private parts. Teaching them how to avoid premarital sex. Teaching them how not to go to that boy’s house alone, but the BoyChild is neglected in that hole of self confidence, in the hole of control of himself. We forget that those boys also have feelings and weaknesses.
We sing more of those girls from paradise than the boys from the ghetto school of hard knocks. Remember, we are part of the struggle too. We face the same thing that girls face in that lonely room. Auntie and Uncle still stroke us in the dark blind room. They still ask us to plant a kiss on their lips and make us spend hours touching them here and there and watch them groan in an unknown tone. We didn’t tell anyone because if we did, they wouldn’t buy us those Christmas shoes they promised us.
We should be careful whom we send our boys to, whom our boys go visit alone. We should be careful with home teachers, pastors in the church, Sunday school teachers and those we leave our boys with. The BoyChild are also prey to Sisters of Christ, the priests and those people who we trusted with our lives. They are not stones. Boys are not stones, why neglect them to be abused by those lost sisters?
Boys are being raped too. Boys are being brutalised too. They get abused by women old enough to be their mother but they keep quiet because no one would believe their stories. Because we believe more in the abuse of the girlchild than the boychild, why?
Why do the hyena only cry in the cave of the GirlChild? Lest we forget, the BoyChild is not a stone. Parents should take a look into our matters too. Let’s relate this with a family that has a boy and a girl. In the family diagram, the girl is considered in so many more ways than the boy, even though the girl may be older than him. They believe he is a man and can take good care of himself without knowing that as much as he is a boy, he has his own weaknesses weighing him down, but he won’t talk because society taught him that talking makes him weaker as a man. He won’t cry either because crying will reduce him as a man. So, he has learnt to swallow more assaulted bones than his spit.
And no one would respect him if he spoke his mind. This is where society also offends the BoyChild. Society stereotyped him to think he is a super hero, a super man who can take care of himself. Many crazy things happen to boys. We go through severe pains. The government will hear of this and nothing will be done. No imprisonment, no suspension. The priests hurt them. The pastors abuse them, their mothers hit them and their sisters hurt them morally as well as the house help using them also, but no one is saying anything about this. Is there no hope for these boys? People don’t really care about what happens to these innocent boys. We say words like “if anything happens to my daughter;” “Please take care of your sister;” “Protect your sister;” Then, what about the boys? We are like pastors who pray for others but hope unto God for their deepest success.
I think that the BoyChild should be given a voice to speak among his peers, a voice to listen to, a voice of expression. I think they should be given the chance to explain themselves; the right to see themselves in themselves. They shouldn’t be stereotyped, they should be taught how weak they are and not a super human. Boys you are not super humans! Take note, let no one decieve you into believing that.
In as much as they invade our territories and want to have us by all means, we should also defend ourselves. You know when the tale is told, the world will doubt us by saying ‘Women cannot rape or sexually assault a boy;” “How can a boy be raped by a woman?” so, you have to defend your territories. This game is increasing day by day, and society can’t see it. We talk about the Chibok girls, Dapchi girls and those girls brutalised in the street, yet the boys are not talked about.
I actually observe that parents, especially mothers are just concerned about the girl child losing her virginity and getting pregnant and not worried about the issues of the BoyChild. They are not worried about the tale that the boy told them about Uncle Ricky removing his pants. They are not moved by the stories they told them about the pastor touching them here and there. Maybe they believed he was praying for them or maybe that Sunday school teacher that took Benny to the toilet and told him how big his manhood was was right saying that. These striking matters are abusing boys, so why do we shy away from them?
Lots of little boys are suffering in silence in the street. They can’t say a thing about the dangers they face everyday. Even if they speak out, who will believe them? How many people believe boys can be raped too or sexually abused in any occasion? Maybe you will understand better when an adult male opens up to you about the horrors of their childhood. This has been my thought and will also be my message, the consciousness I resound, we should try not to repeat society’s mistake, raising one and neglecting another in the name of manhood. Don’t raise only a girl and not the boy because you think he is bold enough to stand alone.
I will now relate to my own childhood experience. I grew up in the ghetto town of Aba where survival was by who you are, how brave you are to defend your sister’s body from being defiled by men and boys. Mother always told us to protect our sisters. That was the ultimate role of a boy at that age. There were boys around. Boys that could take advantage of her. Boys that could harm her. Boys that could teach her bad things. So, she taught us how to defend our sisters, not ourselves, because she believed that our sisters were weaker emotionally and therefore could not protect themselves; but we boys can. We planted those beliefs in our mind. We fought harder so that we would not disappoint mother and father. We have to make them proud. I fought too even though I was not that strong. But I needed to prove to my parents that I could protect my sister even though I was so weak to defend myself at that time.
There was one day when a friend of mine was beaten by a girl in school. He came back home and told his parents what happened. The whole house broke into elegies. It was torn into pieces and its fragments shattered into dust. The spiders went into hiding, the lizards were afraid too. Everywhere was calm and silence ruled our mind.
His father got angry. He shouted, danced here and there to his ability. He asked my friend where his hands were when the girl beat him up. I was there. I was afraid to explain what really happened to them. My friend was too afraid to speak. The father went into his room, got a rope, tied his hands and legs and began to beat him. His mother did not help the matter. She was supportive of his father. They beat the hell out of him. I helped him escape.
As I grew older, I tried to relate this issue with being inhumane and the things that have to do with boys and girls, but failed. I tried to relate it within me as a man but I could not get a reasonable answer to those questions bothering my mind. They were not abstract things. They were things we see day after day. A wife beating her husband and people laugh it away, a man beating his wife, it becomes violence against women, it makes the headlines in the dailies. Then, what is the name given to the former
Is it a sin for a girl to beat up a boy of her age or one she is older than? Are we that strong emotionally and physically that nothing can defeat us? Or is it culture or tradition that made it so? Why do boys have to suffer this much and society doesn’t care about them?
The majority of these things happen everywhere. We think there is no way a boy can show his weakness to the world. They look up to you as the first born of the family so you have to bury your father when he dies. Boys are not stones, they are flesh and blood just like their counterpart.
©John Chizoba Vincent