As Nigeria joins the global community to mark the 2022 Day of African Child, today, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) calls for an end to all forms of harmful practices that affect the progress and development of Nigerian children.
NAWOJ is particularly worried that in different parts of the country, several harmful practices are still being meted on children, in this 21st Century. These practices, which are linked mostly to economic, social and cultural norms, have continued to impede the full development of children.
NAWOJ is concerned that in spite of the Child Rights Act in place, cases of child marriages, female genital mutilation, child labour, physical abuse, trafficking, forced labour, rape and other forms of sexual abuses, stigmatisation and scarification are still pervasive in different parts of the country. More worrisome is the increasing number of rape cases and other forms of violence against children, even in states where there is the full implementation of the Child’s Rights Law, as children, including minors are constantly abused.
With the 2022 theme of the celebration as “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”, NAWOJ calls on the three tiers of governments, agencies and organisations to reflect on the progress made towards the implementation of children’s rights, as well as the barriers they continue to face, with a view to ensuring full implementation of the rights of the child.
Today, we call on governments at all levels to take stock of what has been done with regards to the adoption of policies and practices as well as reflect on what more needs to be done to effectively eliminate harmful practices affecting children in Nigeria.
Also, those issues our children are facing in their daily lives as a result of harmful practices should be at the front burner, while also assessing the progress made towards the protection and assistance of children who are at risk and victims of harmful practices in the country.
There is need to also reflect on what needs to be done to effectively eliminate harmful practices that affect children in Nigeria.
We enjoin parents, guardians, other stakeholders and government to work together with the view of bringing an end to these obnoxious practices, by intensifying efforts in ensuring that the rights of children are protected.
Finally, NAWOJ calls for stiffer penalties on perpetrators of these harmful practices, who are liable under the Child’s Rights Law in Nigeria as a deliberate effort towards saving our children and make the society fit for them. Moreso, all states should as a matter of national interest, establish family courts at the high and magistrate courts levels to deal with matters relating to children on pro bono basis.
In the same vein, Special protection and justice should be provided for children who are exposed to various forms of harmful practices in the country.