Abduction Of Chibok Girls Has Some Positive Sides – Child Rights Advocate

Child Rights Advocate, Charles Anyawike, believes that the abduction of schoolgirls in Borno State has some positives, as the ensuing protests have brought focus to … Continue reading Abduction Of Chibok Girls Has Some Positive Sides – Child Rights Advocate

Rubb Minds Child RightsChild Rights Advocate, Charles Anyawike, believes that the abduction of schoolgirls in Borno State has some positives, as the ensuing protests have brought focus to the issue of child protection in Nigerian schools.

Speaking on Channels Television’s youth programme, Rubbin’ Minds, he said that amidst the cries for the release of the girls, the positive side to the protest was the focus on Nigerian schools and the pressure it puts on Government to put proper child protection policies in place, starting with things as simple as building fences around those schools.

Former Whip of the National Children’s Parliament, Francis Anyaegbu, who was also on the programme, believes that the problems being faced by the abducted girls from Chibok, Borno State were beyond what many Nigerians are talking about.

He cited the sanitary conditions in the camp of the terrorists as one which would be hard for the girls to deal with considering that some of them must have gone through at least one incidence of their menstrual cycle while in captivity; a situation which he said calls for Nigerians to be more worried as the implications of the abduction may be more devastating for the girls.

Anyaegbu likened what Nigeria needs to do in its time of challenges to the efforts made – against all odds – by his organisation to get the Child Rights Act signed in Nigeria in 2003. He explained that it had become necessary for Nigerian children to show their faces in places where decisions about them are being made.

He asked that the forthcoming Children’s Day celebration should be dedicated to Nigerian children focusing on drawing attention to issues bothering them especially with the Chibok girls still missing.

Anyawike, in his own comments about the Child Rights Act, decried the refusal of many governments in the North and indeed the entire country to sign the Act into law in their states. He also condemned the rate at which supposed leaders continually go against the values and recommendations of the Act.

The Child Rights Act

Anyaegbu noted that some of the issues that slowed down the passage of the Act were that many northern leaders wanted the lowering the official age of adulthood from 18 to 16 in order to accommodate some of the practices in the region.

Religious differences were also cited as one of the issues that the legislators had challenges with, as many saw some of the recommendations as being alien to the cultures and religions practiced in the country.

Anyawike added that some southerners also had reservations about the Act, with many being of the view that western civilization was being imposed on the Nigerian culture, especially as regards how to discipline the child.

The activists said that only Enugu State had really embraced the recommendations of the Act.

Both guests insisted that irrespective of the arguments against the Act, the interests of the children should be most important and these include health matters, education and the ability of the children to have a say in their own future.

“Anything that hinders the development of a child is Child Labour”, said Anyawike

He further explained that child responsibility and child labour were two different things, as there was nothing wrong in a child contributing to the welfare of their homes as long as it does not hinder their growth, education and development.

He admitted that helping to support the home was an African practise which he also engaged in while growing up, but this should not be abused.

Sexual Abuse

The rise in the rate of sexual abuse against minors was also discussed.

Anyawike said that this unfortunate issue was not just rising but has always been there with many still “being swept under the carpet”.

He noted that the seemingly increased cases of sexual abuse was due to the rise in the use of social media which has led to many of the perpetrators being more easily exposed by the society, adding that the most potent way to reduce the abuse was to let Nigerians come to full realization that there is need to report those cases.

Anyaegbu added that incest remained the most common in the category of unreported cases of sexual abuse, with many referring to it as family affair. He said that there was need for many Nigerians to be aware that they need to speak out, as the negative effects of these crimes would be more on the child.

Anyawike, despite the complains, however, commended the Lagos State Government for setting up agencies to cater to crimes against children and called on other states in the country to also do more.

Amidst the challenges, both Anyawike and Anyaegbu expressed hope that the future of the Nigerian child was bright but Nigerians would need to show more commitment to improving the quality of life given every child and not just theirs only.