Category Archives: CHILDREN’S RIGHT

GUESS WHY I WAS SLAPPED

I got into Junior Secondary School with so much excitement because I wanted to enjoy teenage age meeting new people outside my neighborhood, interact with children from various social and economic background, live away from home and test the strength of self-dependency at an early age and think to start a business as I come from background with lots of Medium scale entrepreneurs. My expectations on education, communication and learning were high and I could not wait for my first day as a junior secondary student in a boarding school.

I was enrolled in one of the best secondary schools in Lagos, Nigeria and the sad reality of school appraisals in Nigeria is limited to their educational strength based on teaching methods and academic performance in comparison with other schools. Such methods are not constructively appraised on the benefit on mental, intellectual and physical wellbeing of the child. My case was no different as I was a exhibit for testing poor disciplinary methods on children. My parents identified the good academic qualities of this school and once all admission requirement were settled, I became a proud student of Queens College in Lagos Nigeria and lived in school (i.e. the boarding house system that put high responsibility on the school management to cater for the day-to-day wellbeing of students).

The proclivities in this system of child discipline in Nigeria increases the chances and sustainability of corporal punishment based on student-to-student and student-to-teacher relationships as a culture of brutality to define a reputation of “seniority” and dominance within the student community is synonymous to an uncivilized people with intentions to maim and demoralize their peers. When a junior student is a victim of corporal punishment from student of teacher for 4-5 years and sees how it gives a pseudo status of respect, they are very likely to be conditioned to apply such means in defining their roles and status in the student community when they become senior students.

I became a boarding student due to the distance of my school from home. It was a long distance to cover even by car and the traffic in Lagos would double, if not triple the time required to arrive early at school each day. Like I mentioned, the boarding system relinquishes certain responsibilities from the parents to the school management on behalf of their children and this was one of many responsibilities the school would take up that would be less burdensome on my parents and I. The idea of independence was critical to my parents and they wanted to build me up from a young age to be self-reliant and depend less on them for small issues I could manage especially interpersonal relationship and making small decision.

This is a good decision every parent will want for their children and safe to say they wanted a child, regardless of her gender that remains undermined both in terms of equity and equality in Nigeria, to be solid in intellectually and courageous. Though the rules and regulations were alien, I had to live within them as I was excited of my new milestone. Some of the rules were very unimaginable and monstrous and looking back at how they were developed, reviewed and agreed in managing child educational and behavioral development, i really wonder what the definition of child safety and child rights is in Nigeria (I will not dwell on that in this post).

FOOD! FOOD!! FOOD!!! was the reason my house mistress slapped me. Funny but that was why I was slapped, and I will go into a bit of details on it. On this particular day, I went to my guardian’s house receive a call from my parent who had not seen me for some time and as their only child, I think their concerns to speak to me over the phone was valid. After the call, in a show of kind gesture, my guardian gave me food to eat and I ate with so much happiness (considering the quantity and quality (nutritional value) of the food compared to the rations we got from the dining hall, every student would eat her food. I might have been wrong or right to have eaten at my guardians’ house but I’m not too sure a student of a boarding school will blame me for wanting good food.

Anyways, we had a dormitory captain who gave report to the house mistress about certain activities. She reported to the house mistress stating I sometimes ate at my guardians’ and not from the dining hall. Looking back, I can only say she was jealous how my guardian treated me especially with good food. One day, while eating at my guardians’, my house mistress showed up to “discipline me”. I was very surprised and knew somebody gave me up (the snitching systems to attract favor). My house mistress asked what I was doing at my guardians’ place and I replied, “I came to eat dinner”. Her response was “you even have the gut to talk”. At that point, I became very scared and started shivering. She asked me the question again and after responding the same way, she slapped me. I burst into tears and tried to inquire the reason she slapped me, her response to my question was several wipes on my back and legs with a cane she was holding.

At that point my guardian rushed outside to manage the situation and stop her from flogging me. This made them get at each other, at least in words and I felt really sad and because I was slapped and flogged for wanting good food and putting my guardian in a bad situation because I had no idea the implication with the school authority. The fact that food, a core need of a child can be responding in a hostile manner makes me think deeply about children that live without food and how they are treated when they reach out to people that can help or how people that help are perceived by the society. The takeaway for me was that a gap within the social welfare programme of the school was identified and as a school responsible for children wellbeing including quality food, addressing the issue was core not how the student responded to her appetite especially when she did not steal or bully another student for their meal.

My house mistress reported the case to the Vice Principal, which attracted a warning letter from the school after inviting my parents to discuss the matter. The decision from the school management supported the use of violence through corporal punishment meted on me. The mental and physical effect left traumatized as I felt most vulnerable when my parents went home. I did not feel safe and that was not a concern of the school. The direct effect this had on me was I couldn’t speak for myself and always resorted to the help if my guardian, eliminating the goal of developing self-confidence and able to make small decisions on my life. I became more dependent and asking myself questions as “Did she really have to hit me?”, “Couldn’t she have just reported me to the management, if she felt I was wrong or tell me why I was expected to eat from the school dining hall?”.

Guess what, I did not stop going to have those delicious meals at my guardians’ despite the violence and I began taken my dormitory captain along after she apologized to me, we became friends afterwards. My enthusiasm against corporal punishment is that it does not solve the root problem of any poor behavior a child display. It only helps the child grow to understand that (s)he can only manage such root problems by herself/himself and those that do not accept her/his methods of managing root problems will react violently not because they are trying to lead acceptable socio-cultural behaviors but because they lack capacity of an effective way to salvage the problem bedeviling the child and this leads me to make my final comment on this post on corporal punishment. To any teachers, house mistresses, house masters, guardians and parents, the violence you preach is not the solution to the problem.

I was treated poorly because of food but The death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Abuja (Keren Akpagher) would have had worse experience. Kindly share your thoughts about this and more if you have similar experience.

The death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Abuja

How sad is it to know that Miss Keren-Happuch Akpagher, a 14-year-old student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja died after a used condom was found in her on the 22nd of June, 2021.

The school matron, Mrs Grace Salami said “she was diabetic, sedated, tied on both hands and feet before death”. Therefore, she disagreed to the claim made by Akpagher family and said “condom is latex and it is not supposed to decay, and if it has been in her private part for days, the sperm cells should not be found in her urine”. This was said during her conversation with Vanguard.

The Principal said “No stone will be left unturned to arrest the perpetrators”

According to her friends, she couldn’t walk from the hostel to class and her friends helped her to write her test.

Keren-Happuch Akpagher mother told punch media that she called the principal to request the pick up of her daughter but she was discouraged after the principal told her that her daughter will need to isolate for 5 days when she returns. she said “I felt I should go home since the school said they could take care of her”. Her daughter called her back insisting on leaving the school as she has her reasons. So, Mrs. Akpagher went back to the school and Karen Akpagher was rushed to a private clinic called Queens Hospital in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja. According to the doctors and medical tests done, the discharge from Karen’s vagina was discovered to be a condom and her urine test was dead spermatozoa. After 2 days, Keren died and the death was as a result of hyperglycemia triggered by sepsis due to the condom found in her vagina.

The believe of Keren’s family is that Keren was sexually abused and her mother is demanding justice which the school is supportive about it and the case is been investigated by the police. However, the school matron does not believe she was sexually abused.

This is a really sorrowful news, we hope the investigation goes well and pray for justice if she was truly sexually abused.

TO PARENTS: TEACH WITHOUT VIOLENCE

It is funny how adults feel offended or upset when their fellow adult slaps them but they do not think about how a child feels when they slap them. YES, you are older than the child, YES, that is your child or YES, you are trying to correct the child or teach the child. These are some justifications for hitting a child but it is not justified when your fellow colleague or friend slaps you because they are correcting you.

The context of teaching a child without violence such as corporal punishment has been debatable over the years. Protagonists and Antagonists of Corporal punishment also known as Physical punishment agree to the same context that corporal punishment is to inflict pain on a child to curb a child’s behavior. However, in the argument of the Antagonists, the use of corporal punishment encourages a violent society by teaching us that the means of teaching, learning, correcting behavior is not effective without violence, hence, leading to an increase in aggressive people. In addition, there are several negative factors of the use of violence (corporal punishment) such as the mental health of the child and physical injuries which has led to the death of some children.

Whist I was (still) undergoing my doctoral research, I have understood that the term “violence” is very broad and some persons do not consider “corporal punishment” as a form of violence. Examples of violence against children are child slavery, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, negligence, violent psychological discipline, physical abuse (corporal punishment and many more. These examples are confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and some other international organization reports that are aimed at protecting or safeguarding children. At what point do we draw a line between the use of physical punishment and the excessive use of physical punishment? Some proponents have argued that the administration of corporal punishment (physical punishment) should be limited to certain numbers of strokes or flogging and on a particular part of a child’s body, that will not cause injuries or harm to a child.

Back in secondary school, I remember how the teachers whip us (the students) and this did not have a positive impact as we adapted to the violence and did not learn to stop the bad behavior, rather we found alternatives to avoid getting caught. A lot of students especially the senior students exhibited this act on the junior students and even their mates. This increased the rate of violence and aggression amongst friends, siblings and colleagues.

I strongly advice that the use of violence to discipline a child is not the best and it has been proven from several medical, psychological and social research.

Feel free to drop your opinion about the use of violence (corporal punishment) to discipline a child.

MYTHS ABOUT CHILD ABUSE

Yes, child abuse still occurs. I have highlighted 7 myths about child abuse below.

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions I’m the comment section.

Do not forget to share, let’s create this awareness together.

IMPACT OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC ON CHILD’S RIGHT

This is no longer only a global health crisis, it is also an economic crisis that is having a huge impact on people.”[1]

  • Guy Ryder, Director General, International Labour Organization

The Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) is prevalent in more than 193 countries of the world today prompting the World Health Organization to  upgrade the status of Covid-19 from an epidemic to a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.[2]. Nigeria, the most populous black nation became the first African country to record a positive case of the virus from an Italian immigrant on February 25, 2020.[3]  The negative impacts of the pandemic are better left to the realm of imagination than the province of reality.

The world is clearly set to experience its worst depression only after The Great Depression of the 1930s.[4] Again, the international labour Organization estimates that over 25 million jobs and 3.4 trillion dollars will be lost in labour income world-wide while 100 million more people may be forced into extreme poverty.[5] This portends graver implications for a nation like Nigeria, which prior to the pandemic, was already the world’s poverty capital with a poverty rate of 33 percent.[6]

The begging question remains, what is the impact of the foregoing on child’s right? It does not take rocket science to realize that the child’s rights to life, survival and development which are guaranteed by Article 6 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are significantly under threat. In this connection, Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states, “State parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. State parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible, the survival and development of the child.” With glaring poverty levels however, it becomes practically impossible to attain adequate nutrition, right to a healthy and safe environment, security and adequate standard of living which are sine qua non to achieving the right to life.

Again other rights like the child’s right to play, leisure and freedom of association has been affected as it has become practically impossible to keep in touch with friends and outside spaces for play are practically unavailable. There are however more serious implications than the foregoing. It is noteworthy that child trafficking, sexual exploitation and child labour are evils resulting from poverty, which has been brought about by this pandemic. In fact, the huge poverty occasioned by the pandemic is expected to increase child labour by 0.7 percent globally – an estimate that radically alters the prospects of reducing child labour for the first time in 20 years.[7]

Furthermore, another implication of the poverty occasioned by this pandemic is increase in child marriage; a.phenomenon that refers to giving out children below 18 years of age to adults as spouses. Already, 43 % of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th year old birthday, crowning Nigeria as the 11th state where child marriage is highly operative.[8] The pandemic may however worsen this statistics because child marriages will be the most viable alternative for families on the fringes of survival. It becomes a typical example of “take my child while you give me food.” This position is corroborated by the United Nations Population Fund which has in fact estimated that an additional 13 million child marriages may take place over the next 10 years.[9]

Lastly, the child’s right against violence has been compromised by the pandemic. The huge poverty emanating from the pandemic can serve a triggering factor for frustration of adults and consequently, the infliction of violence on children. Sadly, incidents of violence and child abuse are less likely to be detected because of lockdown measures. The implication is that the infliction of violence will most likely be carried out covertly.

This situation is worsened in view of the fact that child protection agencies have reduced monitoring in order to avoid the spread of the virus and the ability of child protection institutions to respond adequately has been weakened. Already, more than 1 billion children are exposed to violence yearly.[10] With the pandemic however, this figure will be magnified and significantly increased. This is no doubt a threat to the actualization of Article 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that: “State parties shall ensure that: (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

In conclusion, in view of the grave havocs that COVID-19 and its concomitant poverty could wreck on child’s rights, it is imperative for governments to respond with positive laws and policies to ameliorate the looming economic dangers. The United States of America provides a ready example in this regard. She enacted her CARES (CoronaVirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act under which 2.3 trillion dollars, amounting to 11 percent of the United States Gross Domestic Product was dedicated to providing one-time tax rebates to individuals, expanding unemployment benefits and providing food safety nets for the most vulnerable citizens as well as loans for small businesses. Also, under her Pay Check Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, over 483 billion dollars was ear marked to assisting small businesses in the United States of America.[11] Developing countries like Nigeria could follow suit. This will significantly reduce poverty, whose effect is to threaten the rights of children.


[1] http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_738742/lang–en/index.htm

[2] news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059261

[3] www.icirnigeria.org/report-nigerian-inmates-live-in-danger-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/amp

[4] http://www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/04/14/imf-global-economy-to-contract-by-3 percent-due-to-coronavirus.html

[5] http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_738742/lang–en/index.htm

[6] tradingeconomics.com

[7] Najat Maalla M’jid, “Hidden scars: the Impact of Violence and the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children’s Mental Health” (2020) Journal of Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health https://campmh.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13024-020-00340-8

[8] http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/nigeria/

[9] United Nations Population Fund, “Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-Based Violence and Child Marriage, UNFPA 2020.

[10] https://reliefweb.int/report/world/covid-19-and-children-s-rights

[11] http://www.imf.org/en/Topics/imf-and-covid19/Policy-Responses-to-COVID-19#U

CHILD ABUSE: The four main types

Child abuse is a harmful infliction of pain on a child, this pain can be inflicted by parents, teachers, care givers, family members and so on. According to Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child, the convention defines a child as persons up to the age of eighteen. Child abuse may take different forms on a child, however, some persons are victims of more than one type of child abuse.

While growing up, I have been a victim to more than one of the types of child abuses, some were not intentional while some were intentional. Passing through the phase had its negative and positive impact in my life. I believe a lot of children have experienced one form of child abuse or the other.

According to the Centers for disease control and prevention, the types of child abuse are as follows:

  1. Physical Abuse: I presume this is the most common type of child abuse especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. The administrators of this type of abuses are ususally under stress or mental problems, employment/financial issues, have a history of abuse, etc, therefore, pouring out their frustration on innocent children. In addition, this type of abuse coud be administered by parents, teachers, school prefects, neighbors or any older person. This type of abuse includes torturing, excessive hitting or slapping, severe punishments, withdrawing the child from eating or sleeping
  2. Sexual Abuse: This is having sexual relations of any kind wih a child. This can be by touching seductively, penetration, watching illegal sexual contents, telling them dirty stories or jokes and so on. In this type of abuse, it is difficult to identify who to blame, either the parents for uneducating their children about sexual topics or for exposing them to neighbors or the perpetrators themselves for taking advantage of the child or the government for not providing enough protection for children or for not creating awareness about the rights of a child to fight against such act. It is not unheard of for parents to sexually abuse their children. If you are interested in more details about child seual abuse, I have a full blog post on child sexual abuse here.
  3. Emotional Abuse: This is a constant disregard for a child by using horrible words on them and making them feel worthless, unvaluabe and unloved. This can happen by mocking a child, Ignoring a childs participation, silent treatment, frequently yelling at a child, telling them they are mistake and of no good in life, bullying, preventing them from socializing with peers, makin the feel guilty and so on. Although, It usually does not start with one, it then becomes problematic when repeated severally. In this type of abuse, I presume the parents or abusers either lack the right parenting style, undergoing mental stress, use hard drugs, etc.
  4. Neglect: This is when a parent or care giver fails to meet up with the psychological, physical or nutritional needs of a child, which coud affect their health or development. This includes leaving a child alone to experience loneliness or harm, locking the child up in a room like a prisoner, not providing the basic needs of the child such as food, clothing, education and shelter.

It is important to note that you as an adult may be guilty of these acts in one way or ther other. We should always know that there are other ways to discipline or treat a child when they misbehave. The mental health of a child is very important.

Ways we can help are as follows:

  • Creating awareness for your children or student about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors such as sexual discussions. Teaching a child to know when to feel safe around a man and when not to.
  • Teaching a child how to seek help and knowing emergency contacts numbers off hand.
  • Open communication with your child is important, make the child feel comfortable around you, as this will make it easier to spot if anything unusual happens.
  • Adequate security is important in a family, making sure that the home is safe for a child especially when they will be left alone in the house.
  • Parents and care-takers should endevour to monitor their child/ children but be care not to over-encroach their personal space. It is important to know where they are, what they do, and who their friends are.
  • Having good relationship with people around you, especially people who look after your child/ children such as their teachers, carers, friends or parents of friends. This will always come useful in grooming and protecting a child in the best way.

Having said all that, I do hope you have learnt one or two things about child abuse as a lot of children are going through one or all of these types of abuses. Help a child.

Feel free to share so as to create awareness about child abuse, also feel free to drop your opinions or experiences in the comment section.


HELPING YOUR CHILD BUILD A CAREER

After the birth of a child, the roles parents play in the life of the children is activated up until the child becomes an adult and is capable of making reasonable and quality decision.

These roles are biological, social, psychological, financial dimensions. Amongst all these, parents are responsible for preparing their children for their future. However, one way of doing this is by helping to shed light and directions as to the child’s choice ofcareer. Parents serve as a major influence in their children’s career development and career decision- making.

This could be done by the following suggestions:

-Ensure that there is a strong relationship between you and the child, as this would allow the child relate with you on such issues. This will enhance a good understanding of the child, therefore, as a parent you will understand the child interests and observe the child’s passion.

– Avoid over indulgence in the child’s life. Yes, it is good to interfere in the activities of the child, however, it over indulgence might make the child withdraw in certain areas. Note that every human loves to be free.

– Give the children independence, let them know what it means to be independent.

– Listen to child and avoid imposing your point of view on the child.( it is the direction that is required).

– Advise the child on decisions made by them and not commanding the child and and imposing their own goals on to the child or seeing their child’s accomplishments as a reflection on themselves.

-Support the child’s decisions. Shooting down the child decision outrightly would discourage the child.

I do hope the few point would help you now or in the nearest future x

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: IS THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO BE BLAMED

Child sexual abuse happens when a child is been forced, persuaded or tricked to engage in sexual activities. This abuse is mostly done by adults who understand the child has not developed sexually to engage in sexual activities or reached the legal age to engage is sexual activities. In respect to the child reaching the required age, the Nigerian government seems to be contradictory in the legal age for child to engage in sexual activities. The Child Rights Act and the Penal Code identify different age for a person to engage in sexual activities and this undermines the possibilities to identify an age to pursue, in principle, the sexual rights of a child.

Sexual abuse can take different forms as engaging in sexual activities in the presence of a child, penetrating the child’s genital or excretory organs, engaging the child in foreplay, watching porno-graphical contents or any sexual content with or in the present of a child etc. The most reported forms of sexual abuse in Nigeria is sexual penetration either rape or persuasion. Other forms of sexual abuse are not reported because they are believed to be below the radar of child abuse since penetration did not occur. Sexual abuse is a major concern in the world especially in developing countries with weak and poor judicial institution and enforcement standards. According to the UNICEF, 6 out of 10 children in Nigeria are victims of sexual abuse. However, such activities are uncovered when rape cases are been investigated. This impairs the psychological, emotional, health and physical wellbeing child.

One of the duties of the government is to protect its citizens including protecting children against violence/abuse. The Nigerian government has ratified several international laws against sexual abuse. A few of these ratified laws are Convention on the Rights of the Child, Maputo Protocol and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women etc. These ratified international laws present a platform that reiterates Nigeria’s commitment to improve child’s rights amongst other human rights. However, such commitments are arguably only on white papers as every child is within the poor security management strategies of the Nigerian government and more so, within the family and neighbourhood they are raised.

This provides two framework of understanding who is responsible for providing safety for children against child sexual in Nigeria. The first framework for understanding who owns responsibility against sexual abuse in Nigeria looks at child security from the lens of the Nigerian government and its ability to manage child’s security. This identifies the availability of laws to promote child’s rights, effectiveness of such laws to protect the general wellbeing of the child, enforceability of such laws and improving institutions that handle child’s right directly or indirectly. This framework goes to harmonise domestic laws within Nigeria that concerns children regardless of religious and geopolitical affiliations of the child. This means that the rights of the child are within the confines of the federal government and cannot be sabotaged by the religion, customs and values practiced by the parents or political unit where the child is lives or enjoys some form of affiliation.

The second framework for understanding responsibility of the child in Nigeria against sexual abuse looks at child security from the lens of the parents and/or guardian who is the legal custodian of the child and provides for the day to day wellbeing and needs of the child. Within this framework, the parents/guardian are expected to serve as a watchdog for the child and provide security against external and internal threat that undermines the sexual and other rights of the child. Issues to be considered under this framework is identifying print, visual, oral, and online content the child is exposed to, identify and assess the behavioural patterns of the persons the child is expose to, ability to frequently engage the child in sexual health education, methods and techniques used to correct the child when he/she leads a poor behaviour etc. This means that the child, though within the political unit of a legitimate government, is served her rights based on the definition of such rights by the parent which determines the form and manner those rights are preserved. The implication within this framework is the lack of homogeneity in the definition of child’s rights based on the various value system parents and guardian use in setting a metrics for what is within the child rights especially when it is in the sexual context. Also, this framework could argue that the child been under the parents could endure sexual abuse from the parents and cannot be salvaged since the government has no responsibility for the rights of the child.

The third framework for understanding who owns responsibility against sexual abuse in Nigeria looks at child security from the collaborative work of the government and the parents. This framework identifies that even while the parents have close access to the child and manages the growth and development of the child, the parent/guardian works within set frameworks of the Nigerian government to ensure that child’s rights are well managed and all threats, especially sexual threats to child’s rights are identified and managed. While this framework creates a harmony between the first two frameworks, the liberal perspective to child’s rights pursued by the framework is sabotaged by the internal conflict that may surface between the two parties responsible for the child. This means that neither the government nor parent have a superior authority over who preserves the rights of the child and could lead to conflict for utmost responsibility to provide the child with security against identified threats like sexual abuse and other form of harassment such children might face within a community and political society that has no key tactics and strategy in enforcing child’s sexual rights.

These frameworks are applicable in the Nigerian case as there is a legal framework that is codified to manage child’s right. However, such legal framework as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Child Rights Acts, Penal Code, Cyber Crime Act, and Criminal Code have remained dormant in enforcing child’s sexual rights especially in a country divided by religious and cultural lines as seen by how the Child Rights Acts, Penal Code and Criminal Code defines a child’s exposure to sex and sexual activities. Sadly, value systems (that are not codified) seem to manage issues regarding child’s sexual rights at the detriment of the child.

Within the domestic laws in Nigeria, some provide safe net for children against sexual abuse. Section 34(1) of the 1999 Nigerian constitution that states that “every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his (her) person”. Such dignity begins when the rights of the child is given an objective evaluation by addressing the child’s age that provide him with a legal cover against abuse from sexual activities and exposure to sexual contents. Emotional and biological development should be considered in respecting the rights of the child to sexual abuse.

Section 1, 6 & 26 of the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 focuses on sexual violence which provided a comprehensive definition of sexual violence and the penalty for violators. Focus here is on penalty of child’s sexual rights offenders. Over the years, there have been an outpouring of sexual crimes against children in schools, homes and their neighbourhood. These crimes are commitment by teachers to male and female pupils/students, parents/guardian to children (mostly fathers to their daughters and uncles to nieces), girls within communities infected with rapist and child sexually offenders. However, a good number of rape and other cases related to sexual abuse are not managed within the confines of the laws. Sadly, this provides courage to will-be rapist to cause a lifetime injury and pain to a child in exchange for a one-sided desire for pleasure. Therefore, it is not wrong to state that the Nigerian judicial system of managing sexual crime against children put vulnerable children at risk of sexual offenders. In this case, the first framework that identifies the government as the chief enforcer of child’s sexual right seems to leave children at the brink of an unchecked political system infected with poor child handling.

In addition, section 275 of the Penal Code states that whoever, by any means whatsoever, induces any girl under the age of eighteen years to go from any place or to do any act with intent that such girl may be or knowing that it is likely that she will be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine. The ambiguity of this law makes it weak to manage child sexual rights within the confines of this law.

The Criminal Code also affirms the prohibition and rape in the southern part of Nigeria. Sections 357-363 outline key issues to manage rape in Nigeria. The definition of rape within this law is narrowed to identify women as the sole victim of the hideous act. While this may be a weakness in the conceptual clarification of rape since men and boys are also victims, the modification of the definition could be based on the number of reported cases based on victim that are predominantly women. These laws are well outlined to provide some manner of safety for women that are the primary target of rape. However, the strength of such codified law has been tested severally and provides no valuable defense for women. If such laws exist within a political system that claims to uphold the rights of women and children and are continuously flawed, what is the limit of responsibility the government cam claim over its highly vulnerable populace?

The Child Rights Act 2003 also prohibits sexual intercourse with a child. Sections 31-33 identifies negligence and child consent as no defense and immaterial to the offender. This means that the law seems to provide a safe net for children and undermine any argument in favour of the offender to indulge a child in sexual activities. However, children have been reportedly raped and sexually violated by security officials, their parents (mostly fathers), teachers, relatives and neighbours. The law also remains weak in prosecuting child sexual offenders and these gap in the Nigerian legal system exposes children to physical, mental or emotional injury, abuse, neglect or maltreatment including sexual abuse.

Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (2015) covers contemporary and key issues that undermine women’s right. One of such contemporary and key issues is the issues of sexually based violence. The Act identifies rape as a sexual offence against both gender unlike the criminal code that limits its victim to women based on vaginal penetration and provides protection for this most vulnerable group. Men and boys can also be sexually abused through anal and oral sex. Interestingly, not all Nigeria states have adopted the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act. This act provides punishment for sexual offenders and identifies, in section 38, how to integrate victims into the society. Yet. it is been neglected by some Nigerian states, especially those in the Northern region.

Having said that, some victims of sexual abuses and other concerned persons accuse the government of indirectly promoting the vice at the expense of protecting its citizens. This could be based on the availability of laws that are codified and expected to manage issues of sexual violence that is within the purview of the Nigerian government but only become white paper affect such bills become laws. The accessibility of justice for victims of sexual abuse is costly, the inapplicability of such laws within various states and regions of Nigeria is another key shortcoming that undermine the effectiveness of laws protecting children from sexual related abuse, and the tradition of stigmatization and other forms of treats leaves victims to suffer the effect of sexual related crimes and provides an edge for offenders to indulge in the act.

On the other hand, some persons say that the parent/guardians are to be blamed as they have failed in performing their responsibility of protecting their child. This group of people address child handling from a perspective that is birthed in raising the children within customs and value systems that are not codified and may be fluid depending on the value system of the parents that is influenced by religion, ethnic beliefs and other value systems that are determined by ancestral heritage rather than a scientific process of determining and providing security for children that is codified and documented.

However, some of these codified laws that provides security for children are drawn from various values and customs, the distinction between both is that codified laws are an appraisal of belief systems regarded to improve the sustainability of man within the society. This process of appraisal and engages each value and belief system in relations to its ability to improve human rights and in this context, the sexual rights of children.

The question remains who is to blame between the government and parents/guardian for exposing children to sexual related violence. What key issues are left out between both parties (i.e. government and parents/guardian) and how does this undermine the security of children against sexual related abuse?

References

Adeleke, N.A et al “Sexual Assault Against Women at Oshogho, South West Nigeria” Nigerian Journal of
Clinical Practice (2012), Vol. 15, No.2, pp, pp 190-193.

Theresa Akpoghome,  “Analysis of the Domestic Legal Framework on Sexual Violence in Nigeria” Journal of Law and Criminal Justice (2016), Vol 4, No.2

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended (2011) CAP C23 LFN 2004

Section 11(a) of the Child Right Act

Section 218 Criminal Code Act


Section 23 Cyber Crimes Act, 2015

Section 275, Penal Code

Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 (VAPPA)



That loophole in protecting a Nigerian child.

A Nigerian child is basically protected by the Child’s Right Act 2003 and Children and Young Persons Act. The laws seek to protect the child on every aspect of his life ranging from birth, survival, development, physical,mental, emotional, health among others.
The Child’s Right Act defines a child as one who is below the age of eighteen years. The implication of this provision of the law is that person who is above the age of seventeen is a adult. The Children and Young persons Act is used in states where the Child’s Right Act.Section 2 of the Children and Young persons act, provides that a child means a person under the age of fourteen years. A young person is a person who has attained the age of fourteen years but is under the age of seventeen.
Also, The Labour Act 1974 is another important piece of legislation for protecting the rights of children. It regulates child labour and protects children from exploitation and abuse .
Even as it seems that with the presence of these laws protecting the Nigerian child, he is secured, the reality is that the opposite is the case. Majority of the children in Nigeria still suffer abuse, used for trade, denied education, child marriage, to mention a few
The major causes of the loophole in these laws are –

Domestication of the laws
In Nigeria, the child’s right act, which was ratified In 1993, after the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, a Children’s Bill was drafted to implement the principles and Rights and Welfare of the Child in Nigeria. One would assume that the law would be. applicable in all the thirty six(36) states in the country, it is only domesticated in twenty five (25) states. Basically, the Northern states have not adopted CRA but the CYPA on the grounds the provisions of CRA are in conflict with religious and cultural norms. For instance, the CRA is strongly against;
(i)child marriages.
(ii)prohibits marriage to members of an adoptive family.
(iii) It defines a child as anyone below the age of 18( eighteen).
Hence, a person can decide to leave a state where the child marriage is not permitted to where it is.

Enforcement of punishment
The laws provides for various punishment where there is breach of its provisions. For instance, 30(3) of the Child’s Right Act provides that a person who contravenes the provisions of Subsection (1) of this section ( which includes using children to beg for alms,dehumanising children) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of ten years.
Regardless of the provisions are made for punishment, there is disrespect for the laws as there is failure to enforce of the required punishment as a deterrent to curb or discontinue activities that adversely affect a child.The prevalence of child abuse in every form in Nigeria is due to the fact that the penalty has not been enforced effectively. The police and the courts have a role to play in the enforcement of the punishment in the CRA.

Lack of knowledge
It is safe to say that majority of the children in Nigeria are not informed of their rights. Parents, schools and the society at large have failed to let children know their rights,so they could tell if their rights have been tramped on.