From Petrus Obi, Enugu
With the continued abuse of children in the society, this year’s International Day Against Child Labour provided an opportunity to sensitise the public on it dangers.
In Enugu State, workers from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) marched through some major streets to create awareness on the ills of child labour.
The NAPTIP workers who displayed banners condemning child labour stopped at strategic places to address residents, stressing that such a child who is abused would lose self-confidence.
Mrs. Comfort Agboko, the Enugu Zonal Commander of NAPTIP led the workers in the sensitisation march.
“When a child is abused, such a child would be denied education and fundamental human rights. And as a country, the destiny of the future generation is being affected because they eventually will be future leaders.
“NAPTIP as an agency was established in 2003 to fight human trafficking, child labour and child abuse. Therefore, as we celebrate, we urge parents to be alive to their responsibilities by performing their parental roles. Government should introduce programmes that will protect children from abuse. For example, children should be educated, infrastructural facilities should also be provided by the government that would enhance the productivity of children.
“As a command, what we are doing is that when we rescue children who are abused, we counsel and keep them in our shelters, those of them that are supposed to go to school we assist them by sending them to school; some of them we pay their bills.
“While in the shelter, we train them in skills like tailoring, bead making, hair dressing, among others, and eventually we empower them. Once they are empowered, we reunite them with their families- those of them that we need to reunite with their families and reintegrate back to the society. For those who cannot be reunited with families we take to home, like NGO’s that are working with us,” she said.
A medical doctor, Mcginger Ibeneme defined child abuse as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and which deprive them of opportunities like schooling and development.
“According to the ILO, the number of working children under 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. These jobs include street vendors, beggars, car washers, shoe shiners, etc.
“The harm these jobs pose to both the development and wellbeing of these children are limitless ranging from child abuses to loss of formal education opportunities and denial of home training and childhood experiences that help form our worldviews.”
Ibeneme also worried that the enabling laws to protect the child, though enacted and adopted by some states, were rarely enforced while those preying on the child were often not prosecuted or even challenged.