As per our custom, greeting neighbours or frequent passers-by along our homes has many connotations. For one, the gesture is considered a means of networking and rapport. For many, the lack of greeting becomes offensive, especially when on the receiving end. In short, a greeting is a must and usually opens up the door to a few gossips.
Last week while taking out the trash, I extended a greeting to some people within my vicinity and boom, a bomb landed on my lap. Without solicitation, I was let in on a little ‘secret’ making rounds about a step father defiling his 13-year-old. The girl in question happened to be watering a vegetable garden that her alleged defiler works on. Obviously, she wasn’t spared several glances in her direction as the subject of the ‘hot’ topic. The father too, was working a small distant from her. Meanwhile, her mother had just left for home and she, too was ‘dissected’ in the gossip.
I was appalled. I wondered how true the story was and inquired how long this alleged atrocity had been going on. I was told it started while the girl was younger, probably nine. It transpired that the mother, her neighbours and the girl’s siblings are aware.
The woman apparently has five children from previous relationships. She met this man and together they have her sixth. And being the provider, she has confided to her friends that she cannot afford to lose him (the usual stories connected to such cases).
Sadly, those who seemed to have information pertaining to this act were unwilling to do anything about it. I implored on them to report, but they said it was none of their business. A man even chirped in to say that if it was his daughter, he would not have hesitated to deal with the suspect. As it was, the general consensus was that the mother would decide what she wanted to do and as long as she was fine with the ‘arrangement’, everyone else should be.
Our story on page 4 ‘Protectors of child abusers are criminals’ rings a familiar tone to it. While warning perpetrators, it extends to those who fail to report as accomplices. How the government implements this aspect of the law, am yet to learn, but clearly, there is a lot of work to be done, including visiting this area I refer to. I believe there are many criminals within this area of crime concealment and while the focus is on the reporting, arresting and prosecuting these cases, there is a whole campaign that needs to be introduced to sensitise the public on its duty. It should no longer be sees as meddling into the affairs of others, but a duty by every citizen to get involved. It is not the duty of parent or guardians only.