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Religion, culture hamper domestication of Child Rights Act — Christian Aid

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Religion, culture hamper domestication of Child Rights Act — Christian Aid

By Angela Atabo

Christian Aid and other civil society organizations (CSOs) say the reason child rights law has not been fully domesticated in Nigeria is due to religious and cultural beliefs

CSOs made this known during a webinar in commemoration of the International Day of the African Child 2021 hosted by Christian Aid UK, Nigeria.

Mr. Martins Abantlehe, program communications volunteer, Christian Aid said the purpose of the webinar was to discuss the domestication of Nigerian child rights law and its implications for out-of-school children.

Abantlehe said the International Day of the African Child has been designated by the African Union on June 16 of each year to draw attention to the suffering of the African child.

“In Nigeria, the Child Rights Act is the policy framework that exists to ‘provide and protect the rights of a Nigerian child and other related matters.

“Despite the domestication of this law in various states across the country, the welfare of children is not adequately protected as there are gaps in the implementation of the law.

“The Ministry of Education said the number of out-of-school children currently stands at 10.1 million.

“This is an increase of more than three million from 2020, implying that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria in June 2021 stands at 13.3 million.”

Mr. Agboola Afees, Girls’ Education and Literacy Program Officer, Youthhub Africa said that in 2003 the Children’s Rights Act was enacted, adding that at present only 25 states had domesticated.

According to Afees, Nigeria’s Child Rights Act was designed to address the triple issue of child labor, child abuse as well as the challenge of out of school.

He said the remaining states that had not yet domesticated were mostly from the north and the obstacles included political issues and the fact that the law was religiously and culturally sensitive.

“In Sokoto State, for example, due to the concern of so many stakeholders and the Ulema Council, we and other players were able to navigate among some Ulama to adhere to the law.

“However, the name of the law had to be changed from Child Rights Act to Child Protection Law due to certain sensitive religious and cultural issues.”

Afees said some have claimed that when the law is domesticated it will empower the child in ways that may not be in tandem with social norms.

He said CSOs need to convince communities that the law had not come to violate their religion or cultural norms, but to help educate children and increase their well-being.

He said this had become imperative as it was observed that a large number of out-of-school children came from states that had not domesticated the law.

According to him, any state that can domesticate the law, the law can be used to hold government accountable and to take responsibility for children.

This, he said, would guarantee children’s rights against violation, forced labor and create a safer society for children, but without it people would continue to act anyway.

He said it would also eliminate early marriage, out-of-school children and other social vices against them and urged the media, NGOs and communities to always talk more about the act and get people interested.
Mr Victor Arokoyo, the main coordinator of the program, Christian Aid, said the failure to put the law in place has had detrimental effects on the children.

Arokoyo said most public schools are plagued by dilapidated buildings with children dressed in ragged clothes that are not in very good condition.

He said the economic situation had forced many children to become providers of peddling services to look after families, adding that out-of-school children were poor children who could not cope with education conditions.

“Some of them travel long distances to get to school and sometimes, when it rains, they don’t go because of lack of access.

“As an NGO, we need to do more to bring attention to these issues and make sure education works for children. “

Arokoyo called for the need to do a lot of advocacy and talk more about the economic issues facing children, to call for improved teacher well-being and to create a good learning environment.

Mr. Emmanuel Tagwai, a development activist, said there was a need for continued awareness and frequent mention of the law and the need for the law to be fully domesticated and implemented. (NAA)

(NAN)

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