It reads like a script from a movie. A man rapes his own daughter resulting into a pregnancy and birth of a baby girl. Full of shame the girl flees home but returns after 17 years with a daughter who was fathered by her biological father. The shameless father also turns to the ‘daughter fathered with his daughter’ and also rapes her leading to a pregnancy. This is a real life story that Police is grappling with following the arrest of the 58-year-old man in relation to this case last week in Kicukiro.
When the first incident happened the daughter feared to report her own father. She instead fled to a neighbouring country after giving birth.
However, when life became unbearable, not knowing where to go, she went back to her father unaware that the misfortune that ensued 17 years ago was yet to re-emerge, only this time, her teenage daughter would suffer the fate.
Now living under the same roof, her 58-year-old father raped the child he had together with his daughter, now 16 years old. According to police reports the 16-year-old is now pregnant. Ghastly as this is, such cases happen all over the world.
The Independent published a similar story last year citing a case in Australia where a father who repeatedly raped his daughter told police that ‘it was fun while it lasted.’
The girl, who was living with her father after her parents separated, was around the age of 13. The man not only repeatedly raped his daughter but also allowed strangers to abuse her as well while he watched.
The question on any sane person’s mind is what on earth would drive someone to sexually prey on their own flesh and blood?
Damien Mouzoun, a family counsellor, says that in his new field of social innovation management, he deals with complex situations like this which most people easily link to psycho-social problems.
He says that most of the time there is not a single cause but a variety of things ranging from social, environmental, psychological, physical or even exoteric explanations.
“Some theories argue that most sexual abusers are usually victims of abuse themselves,” Mouzoun says.
The counsellor, however, says that the psychological effect is far reaching. Some people will never have a normal life and other people become fighters, but in most cases, this generational abuse will have far-reaching effects.
Many times, the child will hide the abuse because they feel guilty, and this is an enormous problem. The victim always feels guilty when they are of course not.
He notes that there are telltale signs to identify a victim of this kind of abuse.
“Signs one can look out for to notice the victim include nightmares, loneliness, physical signs (red genitals), bed-wetting, anxiety, poor performance at school, sexual language which is not compatible with age, abnormal interest in sexual activities,” he says.
Mouzoun advises that treatment for such victims must begin with safety, a place where a child can express him or herself.
Once that is done, depending on the age, there are different therapies, especially when trauma is involved.
childhood trauma is a possible lead for one to become a sexual predator.
Dealing with the trauma after rape
Different researchers have explored the same dilemma of when parents rape their own children- people they are supposed to jealously protect at any cost.
In his article, The Family Dynamics of Severe Child Abuse, David M. Allen, professor emeritus of Psychiatry and the former director of Psychiatric Residency Training at the University of Tennessee Health Science Centre, notes that one of the most mind-boggling and difficult-to-understand phenomena in all of psychology is how some parents seem to go out of their way to severely abuse, physically and/or sexually, their own children.
Though it deepens the mystery of such a thing happening, he says most severely abusive parents were themselves abused as children.
The writer is, however, quick to add that the majority of abused children do not go on to abuse their own children as some even decide never to have children for fear that they might become abusive to their own children just like their parents were.
“Others go to the opposite extreme and become so overprotective of their children that they end up snuffing out their children’s ability to grow up. And many others become model parents,” he indicates.
“My theory about those severely abusive parents who were abused themselves as children and who later adopt the role of ‘monster’ is that they are trying to protect their own parents from their own anger. They say to themselves, in effect, that ‘If I’m just like them, who am I to criticise them?’ he notes.
Children should feel safe with their parents.
For Dr Magnus Gasana, a clinical psychiatrist at University Teaching Hospital, Kigali, substance abuse is a leading factor when it comes to such unfortunate situations.
“Under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, a man can lose control and end up doing such,” he says.
He also agrees that childhood trauma is a possible lead for one to become a sexual predator.
“Abuse in the early stages of one’s life such as sexual abuse or physical abuse can be a cause because such experiences make someone insensitive and hostile, especially if they didn’t seek treatment,” Gasana explains.
The psychiatrist says that it is important for the victims to seek emergency medical care as soon as possible as this will help them in coping with the emotional and physical trauma that comes with this.
“There is need for care after sexual assault, the victim needs to see a counsellor in order for them to deal with the emotional trauma, but also equally important is seeing a healthcare provider to treat the bruises of the body,” he says.
However, for Pastor Charles Niyongere of Anglican Church Rwamagana, the root cause of such evil has a lot to do with a break down in values that guide one’s life.
“People have lost track of their culture while others don’t have Godly values in their hearts. Living life like this can be a source of many evil acts or even worse,” he says.
“When one believes in God, they get to have that right sense of direction in terms of upholding the right values and maintaining what is acceptable in society,” the pastor adds.
He believes that efforts from religious leaders, government institutions and other stakeholders are needed to end such vices.
“We need to do our best, strengthen efforts and sensitise people on how to have a conscience,” he says.
Wanting the best for a child is in most cases what lies in every parent’s heart, but hurting them to this level is just something else. Defiling your own daughter is a real disgrace and utterly alarming, Niyongere says.
Police speaks out on magnitude of the problem
Theo Badege, the Police spokesperson, says such cases of defilement are pressing issues that need collective effort. “We continue to see cases of defilement, and this calls for extra effort by all stakeholders including family members and the victims too,” Badege points out.
“Family is the foundation of the country; it is therefore unfortunate that we can still see such cases. We therefore call upon every citizen to be part of this fight against such vices,” he adds.
Such cases have been placed in categories of high impact crimes because their effects ripple through individuals, right to the country at large.
“There is also need for sexual education for girls and other potential victims, tough measures and conviction of perpetrators; this I believe will help a lot in curbing the problem,” Badege says.