Launched in 2000 by Women’s World
Summit Foundation (WWSF) for the
creation of a global culture of prevention and for the implementation of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the recommendations contained
in the UN Study on violence against children, 710 organizations from 119
countries marked the World Day last year with activities and events
As part of activities to mark this year’s World Day for the Prevention of Child
Abuse, YMCI will develop and launch a network of child journalists as well as
media resources on child abuse in Nigeria. The media greatly influence how we
understand and deal with various issues. The media holds great promise for
reaching young people. Young people typically embrace the use of media
technology for entertainment, learning, and communication when given access to
This, along with the fact that today’s technology, including video camcorders,
digital cameras, and multi-media software such as video editing programs, are
now relatively inexpensive, easily transportable, durable and more user friendly
than in previous years, make youth media productions in dealing with issues like
child abuse a viable initiative.
The primary activity proposed in the project involves a select group of children
in four states in Nigeria who will form the core of the project. They will
develop stories and materials on the different dimensions of child abuse and the
impact of abuse on children. These stories and materials, including photos will
be launched at a public ceremony on November 19 to mark the World Day for the
Prevention of Child Abuse. We hope this forum will rekindle public interest in
the issue of child abuse and also provide concrete strategies for overcoming
stereotypical thinking about children and youth.
19 November – World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse has
been endorsed by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan • Desmond Tutu,
Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate • Dr. Samuel Kobia, General
Secretary, World Council of Churches • The UN Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights • Prof. Jaap E. Doek, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the
Rights of the Child • Prof. Paulo S. Pinheiro, Independent Expert for the UN
Study on violence against children • Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, UN Special
Rapporteur on Education • Juan Miguel Petit, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale
of children, child pornography and child prostitution • Conseil d’Etat et
administratif de la République et du Canton de Genève in corpore, among others.
WWSF Women’s World Summit Foundation, an international, non-profit,
non-confessional NGO with United Nations consultative status, serves the
implementation of women's and children's rights and the UN MDGs. WWSF is member
of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO), CRIN, ISPCAN, MIRA, LIMITA, the NGO Group for
the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the NGO Committee on Unicef, the
Swiss Network for the rights of the child, NGO sub groups on: sexual
exploitation of children; violence against children; the girl child,
Kinderschutz Schweiz, Swiss Kinderlobby, among others.
UNICEF, children's parliament, govt to invest in
kids (The Guardian, May 27, 2004)
From Jane Ezereonwu, Abuja
AS Nigeria joins the rest of the world today to mark the yearly
Children's Day, the United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) has asked
the Federal Government to give the country's kids more attention.
The event, it urged, should go beyond mere speech making and promises to
concrete investments on children and the protection of their rights.
On their part, Nigerian Children also called on the Federal Government to ensure
that all schools use insecticide treated nets to reduce deaths arising from
malaria. Their call was part of a communique issued recently after a session of
the "children parliament" in Abuja.
The UN body, which acknowledged positive steps already taken by the government
to improve the lot of the kids, also appealed to the private sector and the
civil society to complement the efforts. UNICEF official in Nigeria, Mr.
Geoffrey Njoku, stressed that the child rights law must be faithfully
"The enactment of the bill is more than just a lip service and is shown in the
government's leadership in routine immunisation, polio eradication, the
acceleration of girls education and the commitment to fight child exploitation",
Njoku said. On the state of Nigerian children, UNICEF further said, "the
situation of Nigerian children is only slowly improving and the translation of
the law into activity that really affect children's lives has been problematic,
especially, in terms of the exploitation of children, the scourge of HIV/AIDS
and the gender gap in education, which collectively poses continued threat to
the long term development of Nigeria"
UNICEF's country representative, Dr. Ezio Murzi, however, added, "UNICEF works
closely with the Nigerian government to address these issues and good progress
has been made in some areas".
It called on all stakeholders to rally for the good of the country's future
leaders noting "government alone cannot do it- everybody in society, private and
public sectors have a responsibility to make children's rights a reality and
Nigerian a better place for its future leaders".
Feeling unconcerned to problems of children is like reversing the hand of the
clock of development back, Murzi further stated. "Turning a blind eye to
trafficking, exploitation, ignoring the need for basic health care, the growing
number of children orphaned by AIDS and leaving girls uneducated is reversing
readily accomplished gains.
UNICEF said an average of 15 million children are working in Nigeria and eight
million are engaged in exploitative child labour that makes them a cheep target
A new UNICEF report reveals that Nigerian women and children are trafficked to
as many as 12 countries and Nigeria is identified as a destination and transit
country, receiving women and children from as much as 10 countries.
UNICEF further noted that other Nigerian children are trafficked even internally
or within the region to carry out horrendous tasks for no pay. On the state of
Nigerian girls, it stated "many Nigerian girls are coerced into sexual
exploitation and trafficked to European countries such as Italy and other
places. Over 60 per cent of children often trafficked from Africa to Europe for
sexual exploitation are Nigerians.
At the joint session of the Nigerian Children's Parliament president over by its
Senate President Senator Henry Ilabiegha-Abbey and Speaker, Honourable Chinenye
Nwaneri, a bill on the Mandatory use of insecticide treated nets in all boarding
schools was passed into an Act to ensure a malaria free future.
The parliament also resolved that the Federal Government should:
- ensure that there is enough awareness at all level on insecticide
Treated Nets for the prevention of malaria;
- encourage more companies to produce the treatment chemicals;
- provide necessary infrastructure to ensure access to the insecticide
Treated Nets at all levels;
- affiliate, co-operate, synergies and network with CBOs, CSO, donors,
NGOs ad the Nigerian Children's parliament to ensure proper implementation
of this Act when assented to and;
- provide infrastructure for monitoring and maintenance of the Insecticide
Sexuality Education in
Nigerian Schools (The Guardian
editorial Feb 29, 2004)
In response to growing concern about the prevalence of Sexually
Transmitted Diseases (STDs) among students, the Federal Government, through the
National Council on Education has approved the introduction of sexuality and
HIV/AIDS education in the nation's educational system. In introducing the
programme, the Minister for Education stated that "the National Educational
Research Development Council has produced a culturally sensitive and acceptable
curriculum on Family Life and HIV/AIDS education".
The report further states that the programme is part of the new national
curriculum for public schools, both tertiary and secondary. The objective is to
educate students on sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive
health. We are familiar with stories of teenagers who have lost their lives
while procuring illegal abortions. The effort aimed at mass education is
commendable. It is one of the obligations of government to ensure that citizens
are not exposed to health dangers which could ruin or terminate lives. The
current situation where teenagers lose their lives to due to wrong healthcare
choices is unfortunate.
The statistics proffered on HIV/AIDS , by the World Health Organisation (WHO)
are frightening. Indeed if the figures produced by the international health
bodies are anything to go by, the African continent faces a pandemic. Worst hit
are the youths, the fulcrum of the nation's working population. For example, in
Nigeria, the rate of HIV infection is put at an alarming percentage .
There have been media campaigns to draw attention to the scourge that is
HIV/AIDS. Judging by the rate of new infections, these campaigns do not seem to
have deterred people from practising unsafe sex. Teenage boys and girls seem to
take delight in casual sexual relationships, in the name of having fun. Also,
there have been reports on the rate of unwanted pregnancies among secondary
school students. Owing to the stigma attached to teenage pregnancy, most victims
resort to the services of quack doctors. There is therefore the need to educate
our youth on sexuality.
However, some pertinent and disturbing questions arise. Was there sufficient
consultation before the policy was adopted? Is the same course going to be
taught to both secondary students and university undergraduates? Is the policy
sensitive to religious sentiments? For example, are Christians and Muslims
comfortable with the policy? Are parents sufficiently informed about the policy?
Is it possible that teenagers might choose to experiment with what they had
learnt? Will there be examination on the subject? What has happened to the moral
codes which governed our world?
Some have expressed opposition to sexuality education in secondary schools. Such
critics argue that the very fact that teenagers are being taught facts about
their sexuality could produce the opposite effect. In other words, they could,
for example, decide to practice safe sex rather than abstinence which is
recommended for their age. They may also become morally loose having being
exposed to practical sex that may not result in pregnancy.
The other school contends that even if these children are not taught, they are
likely to discover things for themselves, sometimes in a most disastrous manner.
There are books, films and websites which actively promote sexuality education.
The arrival of cable television has not helped matters. Some children have been
caught watching movies and programmes meant for adults. Proponents of sexuality
education also argue that the nation's moral education programme has not had any
effect on the youth. Instead of growth, there seems to be degeneration in
standards. Against this background therefore, it has been argued that we would
be playing the ostrich if we ignored the issue of sexuality in our schools'
There is no gainsaying the fact that our society has witnessed a collapse in our
moral values. Sexual permissiveness, as an implicit message in foreign media has
helped to damage the moral fabric of our society. To restore sanity, all hands
ought to be on deck. Parents, teachers, and religious leaders should endeavour
to stress positive behaviour among our youth.
What this means is that parents should set good examples for their children;
pastors and imams should stress the need for abstinence until marriage.
Counsellors in the schools should impart the desired information bearing in mind
the age bracket of their audience. Counselling rather than instruction would
even be more effective in communicating the importance of safe sex. We therefore
suggest the use of counsellors in the programme. Such counsellors should be
mature persons who are likely to be more circumspect in handling this rather
Finally, in trying to implement the policy, government should strike a balance
between educating the youth through a formal programme and ensuring that the
education itself does not become a source of dangerous experimentation. Parents
should be more involved in the activities of their wards and children.