Rape: Guard the rights of children to stop abuse- Experts By Ijeoma UKAZU
With the rising cases of rape and all forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, SGBV experts has said there is urgent need to safe guard the rights of children jealously in order to stop all forms of abuse.
Speaking during a Zoom webinar to mark International Day of the African Child organised by the St. Louis College Jos Old Girls Association, SLOGA, the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Nigeria Sharon Oladiji said that children's right should at all time be protected.
Oladiji said, there are four baskets of children rights which includes; survival rights, development rights, participation rights, and protection rights.
The UNICEF's Child Specialist explained that, "we would be talking about the protection rights now especially, growing up as a child, whenever I did something wrong, it was my neighbour who reported me to my mother. Do we still have that in our society today?
"We have lost this right from the home. That is why we are exposed to rape to those who are familiar with us; uncles, neighbours, fathers."
The UNICEF Child Specialist added, "my core message is that, we need to guard this rights jealously. We need to protect the children in our society. We need to be each other’s keeper.
Also, talking about the participation right, she said, it is affected by the way we treat our children, especially in the court system, where several people interview the child, adding that, it is an infringement on the child’s participation right because at the end of the day the child would be completely confused and traumatised.
In her words, Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli lamented over the reported cases of sexual assault by fathers against their under-age daughters.
Donli said, "In fact, 80 percent of the cases now are fathers sexually raping and assaulting their daughters. This came out to the fore during the lockdown period. But what does this tell us that we should guard and protect our children.So we need to open our eyes very well and protect our girls, talk to them and make them our friends.
"Discussion of the recent sodomic case of a boy that lives within his own neighborhood; the case has been filed and we hope that we follow it through."
Donli said, "a fight such as this involves the whole society and government. Everyone has the a role to play. The law enforcement community as well as parents.
The NAPTIP DG revealed that the agency now has sexual offenders register that is designed to name and shame sexual offenders.
Also lending her voice, the Executive Director, Women Law and Development Initiative, WOLDI and former Country Director, IPAS, Nigeria Hauwa Shekarau, added that both the boy child and the girl child are important, stressing that there is need to treat them equally; no discrimination.
Additionally, she said, "why it looks like there are more campaign on the girl child is because in the last decade, they have been the endangered species. Some are not even allowed to go to school.
"Focusing on the girl child makes economic sense; at the end of the day they are multiplier effect in the transformation of the society, because you are talking about a child who would eventually become a mother, a wife. She would transform her society."
Shekarau however said, parents should not lose sight of the boy child, adding that if parents pay attention to both genders, children would be provided with the needed care and guidance.