Saturday, 27 May 2017

Children’s Day and 28 years of child rights



Every child is born the same all over the world. Whether a child is born in Africa, America, India, Asian or Great Britain, it is the same nine months of incubation that every child passes through the mother. 

However, environment determines a lot about a child. Environment determines the health, education, growth (physical, emotional and mental), association, life and death of a child. Children’s Day Recognising the vulnerability of a child and knowing that whatever becomes of him through the lessons he learns from the young age will live with him as an adult. 

The General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 28, 1989. Their aim was, and still is, to improve every child’s dignity, respect for his inalienable rights and ultimately mobilize and factor global attention in favour of his plight. 

Since then, the Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e., as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity. It changed the global conversation about children, and set the agenda to ensure children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation. 

Aligning with the global direction, Nigeria signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991 and, with UNICEF’s support, took the important step of domesticating the CRC into a national law: A draft Child’s Rights Bill was passed by the National Assembly in July 2003. 

Then President Olusegun Obasanjo assented to it in September 2003 and it became the Child Rights Act 2003. The Act is a national law that makes provisions for the protection of the rights of a child without any form of discrimination irrespective of the child’s background.

 Also under the Act, government has the primary responsibility to protect the rights, but the family and the community have their roles to play. But since 2003 when the Child Rights Act was passed into law, only 24 states have both passed and given assent to it. 

This means that millions of children in 12 states in Nigeria still do not have the appropriate legal framework for the protection of their rights. Millions of other children in states that have passed the law are not being cared for as they should because the law has not been fully implemented, as the authorities appear reluctant to enforce it. 

Some fear that the freedoms the law bestows on children could make them grow wild. There is also a cultural problem. There are areas where they do not agree with 18 as the starting age for an adult as specified by the law. 

The law was being implemented sparingly in Lagos and Akwa Ibom out of the 24 states that assented to it until amazing findings came out from a national survey executed by the National Population Commission with the support of UNICEF, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The findings exposed the prevalence of child abuse. It also shows the mental, health and physical impact of violence on children from childhood to adulthood. The survey also called for collective action against violence. 

“Against this background, President Muhammadu Buhari launched 2015 as the Year of Action to End Violence Against Children (VAC) in Abuja. 

The event brought together the federal and state governments, the judiciary, religious leaders, community leaders, NGOs, civil society organisations, donor agencies, and the UN to make commitments towards ensuring that VAC was reduced in Nigeria.

 At the occasion, the President directed all the states of the federation to take immediate action to launch the End Violence Against Children Campaign. After the Abuja event, Lagos, Cross River, Benue and Plateau states heeded the President’s call to launch their campaigns to end violence against children. 

States that have passed the Child Rights Act: Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Kwara, Lagos, Nassarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Niger, Bayelsa, Kogi and Taraba. States that have not passed the law: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

 Meanwhile, various challenges in the country still militate against the implementation of Child Rights Act in the states where the law is being implemented. The challenges include: Education The environment in which most of the children in Nigeria learn is so poor. 

The schools lack infrastructure and poorly educated teachers especially for core subjects. Health Though very few states have mother and child hospitals, how many parents can afford the fees they charge to get their children treated there? 

Accessing healthcare has remained a problem. Parenting Parents appear overburdened by the frustrations of providing their own electricity, water, roads, security, housing and so many things that detract parenting that they should make priority. 

The Nigerian child does not enjoy parenting the way he should. Economy Stopping children from hawking on the streets or engaging in child labour or stopping trafficking is a big challenge in the face of the present harsh economy.

 Poverty has been factored as partly responsible for some early marriages especially in the North. There are parents who don’t support the early marriage culture but but who have been compelled by poverty to marry off their girls for their husbands to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of them. 

As children are celebrated today – Children’s Day – the hope is that the vision of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 will be realised with the economy improving and a conducive environment provided to implement the Child Rights Law. Abia state Commissioner for Women Affairs in Abia State, Lady Chinedu Brown told our ANAYO OKOLI that the State was effectively implementing the Child Right Law with a view to giving children in the State a bright and fruitful future. 

Brown said that Abia was keen on preparing good and productive future for the children hence it was one of the first States to domesticate the Child Right Law. Lagos State of Nigeria child in Lagos Lagos is the first state that launched end to violence campaign in March 2016.   

According to the Commissioner for Youth and and Social Development,  Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf,    Lagos children are taken as number one priority   and whatever will degrade their lives is frowned at seriously. She said Lagos dream for children is to see every child having access to good life in education, health care and good homes. 

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