Princess Olufemi-Kayode is a criminal justice psychologist and a prominent child rights activist and the executive director of Media Concern For Women and Children Initiative (MEDIACON)
Background and early career
I am the first of five children, I have two male and female siblings.
I attended Lagos Anglican Girls Secondary School and almost immediately after, I went into the work force. I had started writing while in school, I wrote short stories and poetry. I worked at the NTA as a program assistant for programs like Tales by moon light. From NTA, I moved to The Guardian, then moved to A.M News and then to the Punch.
Changes happened and I had become an activist without realizing it. I ended up being a journalist without studying journalism.
I began to write about abuse, especially about transsexual abuse. I had a column in the Punch then where I wrote about sexual abuse. I receive mails from readers and I discovered that majority of those who wrote in were adults who were grieving, who were going through a lot emotionally. Along the line Punch told me my services were no longer needed and I had to leave.
Then I meet the late Omololu Falubi, the founder of Journalists for Aids (JAIDS), he was looking for a resource manager and with the encouragement of Mr. Lekan Otufundorin, I took the job even though during the interview, I wasn’t clear what the job of a resource person was all about. However, because I love challenges and usually thrive under such, within three weeks I had gotten a grip of the job and was actually confirmed because I beat his expectations. I became the media programs person, I attended all the trainings that were available. I was travelling both internationally and locally meeting people and attending numerous short courses that are still useful to me today.
The year I started my first degree was when I got my honorary degree.
By year 2002, I had conquered in JAIDS, my job was already becoming monotonous, I decided to go to Shiloh to ask God what was in store for me and that was when I heard sexuality minister. I had gone through so much in my personal life that that wasn’t an area I wanted to get involved in, so I was defiant until I had no choice but to resign.
Well, the career challenges I faced was when I was working with Slim-fit magazine, a full colour magazine on fitness. I resigned based on emotions, the lady I was working for had issues and would just get angry and treat me who was the editor of the magazine as if I was a cleaner.
The second challenge was when God asked me to stop work and face His ministry and I refused. I went ahead to make some payments without the approval of my boss and this led to me having to refund with my salary. This eventually led to my resignation.
I went into the ministry quite alright but Mediacon is a name and idea that I had even before I started working with JAIDS. Our location was in the premises of International Press Center. Our first case was that of an 8-year-old daughter of a police officer who was being molested by an undergraduate studying law at the Osun State University (OSU). The father of the young man was a senior police officer and also the God father of the little girl. It was this case that brought Mediacon into limelight. It was followed by most people because it was aired on radio and some television stations.
It was during a media chat I told reporters that I also suffered from abuse early in life. This is something I had never told my husband, not because I was hiding it from him, but because there had never been any reason to talk about it. Some of his colleagues in the office saw it on air and asked him about this and he responded by saying ‘if she said it happened to her then it must have happened’. He came home and because he didn’t see the news he just said ‘they said you were abused early in life’ and till today we never talked about it.
That was how our media forum was created, we attended talk shows even on local programs like ‘Owuro lawa’ on LTV news as well as on Kakaaki of AIT. It was a norm to be on air either once or twice in a month. Even on NTA Newsline. We handled so many cases, we also had the officers at Area G police station at our disposal to assist with those molesters and rapists who sometimes needed to be picked up.
End to child molestation
It isn’t something that can come to an end but it can be reduced to the barest minimum. It isn’t a one-way thing, everybody must be involved. The best outreach is the primary health care centers which are in local governments. We have to empower the nurses there to understand sexual abuse and how to handle such cases. Parents should also be sensitized not to punish a child who has the courage to say ‘someone touched me’. Basically we need a social change to be able to achieve this. It’s not something that will happen immediately. The government can’t do it alone. Big organizations should also be involved. Battle against child abuse is not what NGOs can do alone.
We all have the responsibility to share this information. You might think you aren’t making any impact, but little drops of water makes the mighty ocean.
All cases of abuse are given medical treatment/ assistance as well as given free counselling. However, when it comes to long term therapy sessions not everybody gets that, this is because it is intensive and professional. It should be on every case but for now that’s a work in progress. There are also practitioners who are handling this as their corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Parents will have to be on top of how to handle sexual education of their children. Charity begins at home. Basic knowledge should start from the family. Parents can learn online how to have age appropriate answers for their child. They must develop emotional intelligence and be part of the 21st century. So much is happening out there from gay marriages to lesbian marriages in which they also by right can have children, to even pedophiles fighting for their own rights too. Parents must learn how to teach children the proper values and principles or else they might be taught the wrong one with logical arguments. The Bible says teach your child the way to follow and he will not depart from it.
I want to be known as one who fought to help create a world where children are free to enjoy the beauty of childhood without being abused.