Secretary to Lagos State Government, Alhaja Sherifat Folashade Jaji has any act of child abuse will not be condoned as the state has zero-tolerance of child abuse.
Jaji stated this during a walk organised by The Young Muslims Association (TYM) to mark the 2019 World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse recently.
Represented by Alhaja Maryam Oyesiji, Alhaja Jaji said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is passionate about child protection rights, which was enacted in 2003.
“As part of our efforts towards protecting the rights of the children, the Lagos State Government has created several offices. In the ministry of Justice, for instance, we have the department of child abuse.
“Also in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, we have another section for treating the issue of child abuse. In fact, a lot of offices abound in order to checkmate the issue of child abuse and trafficking.
Alhaja Jaji said to stop the rising cases of child abuse, there is a need for a lot of propagation, adding “The Lagos State Government has done a lot in this area. We have a lot of jingles on the radio, on television addressing child trafficking and other vices related to and affecting children.
She warned against child molestation, trafficking, loitering, street trading, and hawking, saying that offenders will be prosecuted.
“We need to pay attention to our children. Often times, we leave them loitering about and at the mercy of neighbours, uncles, and aunties who in most cases don’t have time for them. In fact, a lot of these abuses are perpetrated by these so-called uncles and aunties.
“It is not only the female children that are prone to abuse. Even the male children are susceptible. The so-called uncle would come and tell the girl-child, ‘I am your husband ‘. The same goes for the auntie who would tell the boy, ‘I am your wife’. Parents need to educate their children about it. They are your uncles and aunties and your parents are your parents. A lot of things have to be done.
TYMa National Coordinator, Mr Musiliu Owolewa, said the event was to commemorate the United Nations Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse slated for every November 19, “but because the day was a weekday (Tuesday), we decided to create awareness and advocate for enlightenment on the importance of the Day with a ‘’Walk and Press conference.’’
The right of every child, Owolewa said, was paramount in every society.
“They are the future of nations; the hope for the coming generation. When these fragile creatures are mismanaged or abused, then the future is blinking.”
“Every child is important, that is why they must be nurtured with care and love. They must be celebrated and loved by all,” he said.
He said it is disheartening that in today’s world, there are rising cases of child maltreatment, many of which call for urgent attention.
According to him, “Records have shown that 95 per cent of prostitutes were sexually abused as children. 78 per cent of the prison population were abused as children, 50 per cent of suicidal attempts reported have been sexually abused at some time. Six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence and only a fraction receive help or justice.”
He also quoted UNICEF figures of 2019 which revealed that 1 of 4 girls and 10 per cent of boys have been victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.
Some of the effects of child abuse on victims, Owolewa said, could be physical injury, emotional imbalance, behavioural maladjustment, poor academic performance, low self- esteem, depression, prone to further abuse, suicide attempt and sometimes, death of the victim.
Former National Coordinator of the association, Alhaji Abdul Azeez Ajala called on the government to regulate and sanitise the activities of correctional centres in the country, saying that some of them molest and violate the Child Rights Act.
“We’ve read in the news how innocent Nigerians – both adults and children are being molested at correctional homes. These places are supposed to be rehabilitation centres where people find a solution to their problems. But today, evidence has emerged that many of these centres abuse their inmates.
“These correctional centres need to be regulated. We must see that there is a distinction between what we call the Madaaris (Arabic schools) and the so-called correctional centres. It is high time the government takes the lead by regulating and sanitizing these centres.”
Ajala said it is one of the responsibilities of government to protect all citizens including children from being molested and victimised.