By Taye Obateru
Jos – Governments at various levels have been urged to move beyond the passage of the Child Rights Act into law to putting in place a strong enforcement mechanism that will ensure that the objectives of the law are achieved.
Director of a rights group in Plateau State, the League for Human Rights, Peter Gad Shamaki made the call in a paper on â€œChallenges and Success of Policing Women and Children in Nigeriaâ€ at a training workshop for police officers organized by Cleen Foundation.
He said the laws for the protection of women and childrenâ€™s rights would achieve nothing if steps are not taken to ensure their enforcement.
â€œWhen parents leave their children hungry, it is child abuse because they place them at risk of engaging in risky adventures. When parents put their children in early marriage, it is child abuse because they stand the risk of VVF (vesico vagina fistula) and not completing their education.
â€œWhen government allows teachers to go on strike for months, that amounts to child abuse because it throws children to the street instead of being in school. The instances are numerous and so are the challengesâ€, he said.
Shamaki identified challenges to policing women and children as including poverty and illiteracy which make them unaware of or unable to fight for their rights, absence of data to document magnitude of spousal and child abuse in the country and the structure of some our laws which tend to excuse cruelty against women and children as â€˜disciplineâ€™.
He called for proper funding and training of the police to enable them function effectively noting â€œall over Nigeria, police personnel live and work in extremely poor and unacceptable conditions.â€
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Admin) for Plateau Command, Mr. Femi Oyeleye agreed that the police was the cornerstone for building any democracy adding that a new police force was being built in line with democratic tenets.
He, however, said every Nigerian irrespective of status must respect the laws of the country noting that Nigerians who behave above the law at home respect laws when they travel abroad.
According to him, â€œthe moment we are able to bring everybody under the law, it will be easy to enforce human rightsâ€.