Protecting children against domestic violence

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DOMESTIC violence against minors is on the increase in Nigeria in recent time.

  THIS evokes a chilling reminder of the sad situation young girls face in the country today. In Enugu, Nneoma Nnadi, whose guardians, Mr. Jude and Mrs. Ifeoma Ozougwu, were obligated to fulfill the duty of giving the child basic protection, burnt Nneoma’s buttocks, legs, stomach and back with hot electric iron and had two nails drilled into her head, as well as putting a pepper mixture into her private part.

LAST month in Anambra State, a woman chased after her maid from their house into the road until the maid was hit by an oncoming car. She was rushed to the hospital in an unconscious state. Though she survived  with severe injuries, the psychological trauma she sustained afterwards could last for a life time.

LIFE for another maid identified as Miracle was terminated in the hands of her guardian, identified as Madam Oby. Findings show that Miracle’s day starts by 4.30am to do house chores, while Oby and her children would still be in bed. Miracle and another maid called Chidinma were stopped from going to school and they would always descend on them at the slightest provocation. It was in one of such abuses that Miracle was beaten to death according to Chidinma, who spilled the beans to the police, under interrogation.

THE increasing rate of violence against minors raises many questions like; why would one subject the child of others to inhuman treatment? Is it proper to allow children to live with another person other than their parents no matter how hardship bites? Who eventually takes the blame for the abuse; the parent or guardian? Has the society done enough to curb the abuse? Has the law sufficiently held culprits to account and serve as any deterrent?

THERE are still many questions begging for answers but fact remains that parents and guardians have not done enough for these children who have no established word or rights of their own, given the situation they found themselves in.

ACCORDING to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), on the average, death and disability resulting from acts of violence against children cost Nigeria a whopping N1.42tn annually. The amount, according to the report is equivalent to 1.6 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product.

A BREAKDOWN of the N1.42tn showed that the cost of physical violence against children alone accounted for N1.01tn. The report shows that 52 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls in Nigeria fall victims of physical violence prior to 18 years of age.

SUCH cost comes higher in magnitude to the parents of the violated children as most of the domestic helps do not go to school and are always working to exhaustion. It remains disturbing that many domestic helps who  are minors are malnourished and are always objects of violence. The emotional torment of parents over abuse of their children is unquantifiable, more so when death of a child is involved.

IT IS therefore advisable that no matter the crushing economic situation, parents should keep a close watch on their children living with other people since it is an established fact that many guardians fall short of taking care of children as the parents would.

HOWEVER, it is pertinent to state that it is inhuman for any guardian to subject any child to harsh treatment or whatever treatment they can’t subject their children to. In all circumstances, every guardian should consider the welfare of minors in their care paramount and always put themselves in the shoes of the parents whose children’s rights they abuse.

SINCE most abused children are voiceless and their parents too poor and in some cases ignorant of access to justice, the society should help by intervening in any violence against a minor by reporting such activities to appropriate authorities.

WE URGE public spirited individuals, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations to not only bring such matters to the attention of security agencies but to help follow it up to ensure the culprits are brought to book.

IN 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was created to serve as a legal documentation and protection of children’s rights and responsibilities in Nigeria. The act seeks to fulfill  three key purposes among which are  to provide the responsibilities of government agencies associated with the act and to integrate children-focused legislation into one comprehensive Act.

WE CALL on the federal government to implement a comprehensive child protection system with a strong legal foundation. The Child Rights Act should be domesticated in all the states in Nigeria and the FCT with deterring punishment for offenders.

SINCE the economic burden of violence against children weighs on the government, it is important that the country pays more attention to the issue of child protection in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

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