By Sola Ogundipe
The Lagos State government has launched a groundbreaking campaign to end violence against children.
Lagos is the first State in Nigeria to respond to the call of President Muhammadu Buhari, for every State in the country to initiate their own campaigns during the National Year of Action to End Violence against Children, launched 15th September 2015.
At the launch – a collaboration with the US Mission in Nigeria, UNICEF and other development partners, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode declared that enough was enough on the issue of violence against children in the state.
Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker Lagos State House of Assembly, Sanni Eshinlokun said the state and the nation as a whole had a clear moral, legal and economic imperative to end violence against children.
The State announced Priority Actions to be taken by state and non-state actors in short-term and long-term to effectively prevent and respond to violence against children.
“We cannot allow the findings or the priority actions to remain on paper,” Ambode declared.
Also speaking, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, Maria E. Brewer, said: “We have made progress in this fight but much still remains to be done. All children must be protected from abuse, violence, exploitation, and neglect. Violence against children is never justified. Violence is preventable”.
In a comment, UNICEF Representative, Ms Jean Gough, said Lagos has set an example for for the rest of Nigeria in the fight against violence against children. “We hope that where you have led the way, other States will follow.”
Millions of children suffer violence every year in Nigeria – approximately six out of every 10 children experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years, according to the Nigeria Violence against Children Survey, carried out by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The survey, presented to Special Representative, UN Secretary General on Violence against Children, Ms. Marta Santos Pais, by Chairman, National Population Commission, Eze Duruiheoma, found that: one in two children experience physical violence; one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence; and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence. The majority of children do not tell anyone what has happened to them and fewer than five per cent receive the help they need to recover.
“The study is a remarkable example of how research can bring to light the hidden face of violence against children,” Santos Pais noted.