By Chioma OBINNA
Edna, 14, lives in the village with her parents and siblings. For the family, access to three square meals a day is like a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Edna has no choice other than to live with the situation. Before school everyday, she goes around in hawking, despite the fact that she lives with her parents.
One day, what seemed like succour came her way when an aunt of hers went to the village and took her to Lagos. Edna initially heaved a sigh relief, alas, she never knew her problems were only just beginning. She was taken to the city to be used as house help. She was enslaved so to speak.
Many children, like Edna, especially the girl- child are currently struggling to find succour even at home because of constant threat to their well-being. Even at school, their is no respite. No doubt the girl child is an endangered species.
Human rights lawyer with Ajegunle Community Project (ACP), Mrs Funmi Adeniyi, avows that government at all levels have failed to protect future leaders by failure to implement the Child Right Act.
“Federal government has failed to popularise the Act. If there was enough awareness about the Child Right Act, you cannot go to court today, and still find two years and three years old babies defiled by a man of 42 years old and above”
“The Child Right Act has been passed, but how many people know about it? How many people know that it is protecting children? Federal government is not campaigning enough for these children even the States are not doing anything concerning it. Some States have passed while some have not. Even the once that have passed it, how many of them are implementing it? For us to have better child welfare, it has to start at the Federal level”
She further called for the translation of the Child Right Act into individual languages for better understanding of the content.
Adeniyi, who spoke at a programme, tagged “Girls Talk Back to celebrate this year’s 16 days – Day Activism on Gender Based Violence and Discrimination Against the Girl – Child in Lagos said it was in recognition of these facts and to ensure the safety of the girl child that ACP began Girls Talk Back series.
“We are using the programme to create awareness for Parents and the children to be sensitive of our environment, community because the issue of rape has become rampant.
Executive Director ACP, Mrs Olushola Akai said the Girls Talk Back initiative is centered on empowering the girl child to hear and speak openly about violence and abuses they have experienced witnessed, feared or fought with the sole aim of creating a better understanding between the girl child and the society.
Olushola who stressed the need to raise awareness on issues of violence against women said the programme was also to lobby for zero tolerance on all forms of violence against the girl-child.
An SS1 student of Amuwo Odofin Senior Secondary School, who participated in the Girls Talk Back Drama series, Ms. Uyebi Mabel Omajuwa who described how the programme has impacted positively on them lamented that most children are being harassed and maltreated by even their parents which has in turn ruin their lives.
She said this injustice had to stop for Nigeria to be a great nation with great future leaders. Mrs Angela Iwuoha, a teacher at Amuwo Odofin Secondary School said the programme had drastically reduce cases of unwanted pregnancies compared to 2006 when the cases were too rampant.