Early this week news broke of an 11month old baby who was sexually assaulted and molested by a 27year old man, only referred to as Ibrahim. This news was accompanied by a very distressing image of the victim which appeared all over printed and electronic media.
As we all hope and pray, the little angel recovers from the ordeal, we also begin to worry for the aftermath, the extent of damage this act committed on her and how this will affect and shape her future. How will society repair this damage? What support is in place to help repair this damage? How will she be supported to understand why this happened to her.
This is what happens when a system remains static. Hang him or shoot him, one fact that cannot be disputed is that this man was suffering from mental sickness. The signs definitely would have been there but excuses were given as to why he was the way he was. When are we going to stop alluding things to the unseen forces even when the reality is so glaring. There is always a price to pay when families and society at large make excuses for unacceptable behaviours, thereby missing out on the underlying problem until it produces an outcome beyond human comprehension.
A young man of 27years sexually molesting a baby of 11months is beyond abnormal, therefore it only points to one thing, this individual has mental health issues. Sadly, we live in a society where one is not seen as mentally unfit until you go naked and start running around attacking people or eating from the dustbin, then only are you labelled as “mad”.
Many people are suffering today from all kinds of mental issues brought on mostly by the state of our society, or by a hereditary nature. While others know, they have this mental issue but don’t know how or where to access or ask for help or support in dealing with it.
And it is not just the individual being aware of their issues, but close family members who even have the slightest incling that something is not right, however because of the stigma associated with mental illness, they will go to any extent to disguise it.
The responsibility to put preventive measures in place lies with the responsible government parastatals. A functioning system that will not only prevent sickening incidents like this from happening, but also supporting and helping individuals like Ibrahim to understand and identify what they are suffering from, then given the needed help and support to live and be part of a community without being a danger to themselves, the people around them and in the community.
It’s not only the responsibility of the government, but society and the immediate community need to start taking responsibility as well, making it our collective responsibility to act as watchdogs. This will in effect create a healthy and safe environment for all to live in.
Some don’t even know the symptoms as there are not much information out there, information that should be tailored to suit the needs of society as suited to our demographics and understanding.
Today Ibrahim stands condemned, and will most likely will never see daylight again.
Family and the immediate community needs to, and has to start making it our collective concern to call for help or support for close family members and friends identified with mental challenges. we need to have clarity of what is real, not alluding or blaming some unseen forces, from generational to foundational traditional need to start Families, have the first responsibility to act and ask for help before community and the society at large.