PRUDENCE @ HOLIDAY TIMES : Vincent NNANNA
During the next 3 months beginning July 1st through September 30th 2006, pupils and students in Benin republic are on long vacation. As schools remain closed during this period, pupils and students would not take some break from activities. While many of them engage in what has come to be known as traditional ‘holiday courses,’ most of them, especially the girls, would be seen at all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons, around the cities.
Worried by this unholy perambulation during long vacations, the Benin government in collaboration with some international institutions such as the UNICEF has introduced a scheme aimed at providing relief packages to encourage as many girls as possible to have access to fairly subsidised schooling. Unfortunately, though, not many of the beneficiaries do appreciate the value of the scheme.
Little wonder that as soon as schools are on break, most of them resort to doing what they know best – prostituting. One cannot deny the fact that there are some nice girls, however, who, by reason of their good parental upbringing and strong religious background, are persuaded by moral suasion not to have themselves tangled in the wrangle.
The notorious prostitutes’ enclave popularly known as ‘Jonquet’ would be overcrowded with ‘new kids in town.’ Male clients consisting in the main, of white-skinned businessmen and some sailors usually scramble for these new and young girls for a change. The older professionals do not bother because, afteral, they are the ones that offer shelter to these school girls and hire them out to their customers on commission basis.
These girls can be classed into three categories, namely:
1. Some final year students who believe that they have no chances of gaining any employment opportunity. They cling to the axiom of ‘making hay while the sun shines.’
2. There are the insatiable sex maniacs who would grab at the slimmest excuse to return to their stock-in-trade.
3. There is the unfortunate child from very poor families who have no other means of sustenance, and find lucrative bed-mate in the sex market.
As the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. It logically follows that when schools are back on course, those who have smeared themselves in filth will return to classes with unbearable influence to corrupt their unsuspecting peers. Their manner of conversation, spending habit, seductive allurements, drinking and smoking tendencies, extravagant display of dirty fortune; would naturally overwhelm even some teachers. Before long, prompted by some instinct of curiosity, the innocent peer groups will begin to wonder how their mates have suddenly burst into some fortune. The danger lies in the fact that the need to satisfy this curiosity can lead to most of the unsuspecting children being initiated into the crime world.
The bottom-line of the entire hullabaloo is that the maternities are replete with more expectant mothers. The clinics play host to more patients with sexually-transmitted diseases. Police cells are filled with night wanderers who could not satisfactorily explain their motive for being caught at odd places at night. Above all, the cities begin to experience increased crime rate.
To arrest the situation from escalating further, more emphasis should be placed on sex education at all levels of child upbringing including the home, religious institutions as well as educational institutions. The dangers of HIV/AIDS should be made a reality by encouraging more talk-shops. Radios, Newspapers and Television houses should devote prime time moments for enlightening the public on the dangers of single-parenthood, the implications of unwanted pregnancies, the far-reaching consequences of sexually-transmitted diseases, the stigma associated with prostitution, infant mortality and deaths resulting from premature pregnancies.
A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.