On March of 2009 I wrote a blog about sexual abuse in Africa starting with a cry for help that I received through my email from a young lady who had been kidnapped and was forced to be a sex slave. Unfortunately, despite me contacting many organizations that could have helped the young lady, we could do nothing until she told us where she was. She never responded. Since then I’ve become more involved in trying to find people to start Lamplighter chapters in that continent.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa calls child sexual abuse in Africa a silent health emergency. In The Lancet today, (May 9, 2009) Avid Reza and colleagues present survey data on sexual violence in girls in Swaziland. In this survey, one of the few nationally representative samples from Africa, a third of girls and women aged 13-24 years reported some form of sexual violence before age 18 years. The Kingdom of Swaziland, sometimes called Ngwane, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique. Swaziland's economic growth and societal integrity is highly endangered by its disastrous HIV epidemic, to an extent where the United Nations Development Program has written that if it continues unabated, the "longer term existence of Swaziland as a country will be seriously threatened”. The infection rate in the country is unprecedented and the highest in the world at 26.1% of adults and over 50% of adults in their 20s. The widely held African belief than an infected male can be “cleansed” of HIV through sexual intercourse with a virgin puts younger girls at particular risk in communities with a high prevalence of HIV.
The Lamplighter Movement currently has two chapters in Lagos, Nigeria and one in Nairobi, Kenya. Our Nigerian Lamplighter facilitator recently submitted two names of women who live in Nigeria (which has a population of 18 million) that want to start chapters. One has already joined our movement making our total chapters 50 in six countries. Child sexual abuse in Nigeria is being called the raging storm. She also has one in Sudan that is interested. In one of my recent emails from her she was studying at an institute that caters to the needs of sexually abused children in India. There were 75 sexually abused children in the campus that were sex slaves to temple masters, have been rescued and are now being integrated back into society. She was taking a month long training on Gender Diversity and Transformation. While there she spoke with two women who wanted to start chapters in India. We applaud her efforts as she is leading the Lamplighters into the lives of so many who have been sexually abused. I have mailed her several copies of REPAIR Your Life: A Program for Recovery from Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse so that those in her chapter can begin to work the program. At her request I am mailing both her and VISTHAR, Institute for Peace and Development Initiative several copies of REPAIR For Kids.
The “dark continent” is a former name for Africa, so used because its hinterland was largely unknown and therefore mysterious to Europeans until the 19th century. Henry M. Stanley was probably the first to use the term in his 1878 account Through the Dark Continent. Today it is politically incorrect to use that term even though the inhabitants themselves often refer to it as the “dark continent”. The Lamplighters is working hard to bring light into that darkness.