Posted by News Express | 8 August 2015 | 3,567 times
The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has handled more than 100 cases of child abuse in the last seven months in Kaduna State, its Principal Legal Officer, Mrs. Inna Audu, has said.
Audu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Zaria that 60 per cent of the cases involved issues of rape, abandonment, neglect, physical abuse, child labour and exploitation.
“Sometimes these children are left to their own device; they are left either on the street or they are not given proper care. So it makes these children easily vulnerable to predators.
“We are so ignorant, especially at the grassroots level, on how involved we should get in our children’s welfare.”
Audu blamed the slow pace in the fight against child abuse in the state on the absence of appropriate legal framework to serve as backbone to enforcement agencies.
The official commended the United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for its consistent advocacy to ensure domestication of the Child Rights Act in Kaduna State.
“The absence of legal backing is seriously undermining the fight against child abuse, because a lot of things that we want to do, we can’t do because we are not empowered by law.
“So, if you get to a certain point, parents will tell you that they don’t have to do this, and you will know that they really don’t have to do it, so you have to draw back.
“But if the law prescribes that this must be done, then it must be done and no erring parent will be allowed to escape the wrath of the law.
“So the child right law, if eventually adopted and passed, will go a long way in addressing the challenges faced in child protection issues in our society.”
She stressed the need for the enlightenment of communities to take active part in the protection of rights of children.
Shehu Maiyaki, Child Desk Officer, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) who also spoke to NAN, described the high rate of child abuse in the state as pathetic.
He said the state government must enact a law to prosecute offenders.
“The situation is pathetic. Children in Kaduna state are being abused every day in different ways.
“The recent cases I handled involved a 21-year-old who raped a 9-year-old, while another case was that of a house maid, who was battered by her employer who claimed that she stole some money.
“There should be an instrument for us to prosecute offenders and that is why we are here, reviewing this child right law for Kaduna state.
“If it would be reviewed and taken to the appropriate quarters and eventually passed; offenders will know that they don’t have anywhere to hide.”
Maiyaki noted that the attitude of parents also make it difficult for enforcement agencies to prosecute offenders.
According to him, most cases are not often reported, and even when reported, parents will usually opt for out of court settlement.
He said that parents usually took the option to protect their children from further abuse and stigmatisation.
Maiyaki said the high level of inter-agency cooperation in the state had facilitated proper handling of child abuse cases.
“Sometimes, cases are referred to me from another agency and I equally refer other cases that are not within my jurisdiction to other agencies mandated to handle such specific cases.
“We have always tried as much as possible to protect the interest of the child; when we apprehend perpetrators, we refer them to appropriate agencies so that there will be speedy investigation and prosecution.”
NAN reports that UNICEF recently organised a three-day stakeholders meeting to review the 2009 Kaduna State Draft Child Right Law and push for its passage by the state assembly. (NAN)
•Photo shows NHRC Chairman, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu.
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