…As Lagos State marks International Day of the African Child 2014
Lagos State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire on Monday made a clarion call for collective commitment towards putting a stop to all forms of sexual harassment, assault and abuse particularly rape cases against the girl- child.
The Deputy Governor who addressed a Press Conference on the International Day of the African Child 2014 at the Conference Room of the Round House, Alausa added that everyone must be ready to break the culture of keeping silent on rape cases and violence.
She added that parents must not hesitate to report cases of sexual harassment, assault and abuse to the Police in order to expose and prosecute the offenders to serve as a deterrent to others.
She stated that the press briefing is in continuation of the celebration of Children and to call attention of all stakeholders, NGOs, international organizations, Governments, the Civil Society, parents and guardians to the welfare and continuing need for the improvement of the full development of children.
The Deputy Governor recalled that the International Day of the African Child has been celebrated yearly since 1991 in honour of over 700 black High School children who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa because of a protest to press home for their rights on June 6, 1976.
She reiterated that the theme for this year which is, “A Child-Friendly Quality, Free and Compulsory Education for All Children in Africa”, is most appropriate and relevant to provoke the people to action and be committed to the promotion of sound policies and strategies for quality and compulsory education for all children.
She explained that the objective of the media briefing was to call for more action to raise the tempo of awareness and sensitize the society on the measures to safeguard the rights of the child as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, Article II and the Organisation of African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1991.
The Deputy Governor who also spoke on the provision of the Child Rights Act said it includes the right to life, survival, balanced development, dignity, respect, participation, privacy, family life, parental care, protection.
She explained that the underlying factor, however, that can help realize the fundamental rights remains free, compulsory and quality education and that it is an enduring legacy that can help to deliver the citizenry from all forms of oppression, ignorance, poverty and diseases.
“We must be committed to break all barriers for full access to the best of education irrespective of class or socio- economic backgrounds, achieving this, it will be very easy for us to help the child realize his/her goals and promote their rights”, he said.
He stated that despite the instruments and laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1991, the Constitution of the of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the Child Rights Act 2003 and the Child Rights Law of Lagos State 2007 enacted to protect and promote the rights of the child, there have been continued cases of abuses of the rights.
Mrs Orelope-Adefulire said various forms of abuse such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, forced marriages, kidnapping, rape, abduction, child trafficking, neglect, child labour, underage prostitution, street hawking and denial of education have become rampant.
The Deputy Governor also reiterated the clarion call for the rescue of the school girls who were abducted from Chibok in Borno State almost two months ago and appealed to the nation’s leaders to do everything possible in ensuring that the innocent girls are brought back alive as soon as possible.
“There is a need also to as a matter of urgency see the reasons for the need to start counseling and motivate children and allay their fears that their rights, safety and security will be guaranteed as the incidence in Chibok has created a lot of trauma in some of the children even outside Borno State..,”she said.
According to the Deputy Governor, parents and guardians, especially the mothers should be more vigilant, available and committed to the welfare of their children by balancing their career with their duties as mothers.
She reiterated her call for the conduct of psychiatric test on perpetrators of rape and sexual harassment which she said has been on the increase, adding that some of the cases are simply inexplicable and calls for concerns.
To address the situation, she called for the introduction of stringent sentence like life imprisonment for convicted offenders without any option of fine, adding that the full support of the law enforcement agencies and the Courts are also required to ensure justice and successful prosecution of offenders.
Mr Orelope- Adefulire also called for more show of responsibility on the part of ladies who dress provocatively.
She added that any woman who dressed scantily is only cheapening herself and would end up exposing indecently what God has ordained to be kept away from the prying eyes of all.
The Deputy Governor was joined at the briefing by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, Special Adviser on Media, Mr Hakeem Bello, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Risquot Akiyode and that of Office of Youth and Social Development, Dr Yinka Oshiyimika.
SPECIAL ADVISER TO H.E ON MEDIA
JUNE 16, 2014