Recently, the campaign to ”End Violence Against Children (VAC)” was launched in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
These rights are enshrined in the UN convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty, and the Nigerian Child Rights Act (2003) which is applicable in the FCT.
Despite this, millions of children around the globe, including Nigeria and the FCT, regardless of their economic and social circumstances, culture, religion, or ethnicity, are subjected to violence on a daily basis.
As stated in the priority actions of FCT, VAC is not only a protection and human rights issue but also a public health and social-economic concern.
An overview of the National Survey on VAC shows that 90% of children aged 2-14 years were subjected to at least one form of psychological or physical punishment by a household member, and about 34% of children were subjected to severe physical punishment.
The survey revealed further that 61% of caretakers believed that physical punishment was necessary in the raising of children, and at the basic education level, physical and psychological violence accounted for the majority of violence against children in schools.
Other forms of violence reported among learners/ students included gender-based violence, sexual and health related violence.
Findings by the survey also shows that before the age of 18 years 6 out of 10 children experience some form of violence, half of all children experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence, also one in six girls and one in five boys experienced emotional violence by a parent, caregiver, or adult relative.
It was based on these facts it became imperative to launch the campaign to end violence against children in the FCT, however FCT is one of the nine states participating in the child protection systems modeling programme being anchored by UNICEF in collaboration with federal ministry of women affairs.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the launch in Abuja, directed states to adopt laws and policies that would bring an end to VAC including other cultural practices that hinder the growth of children in Nigeria.
He stressed the need for improvement of children’s wellbeing particularly in ensuring the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) target on children.
Speaking through the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Senator Aisha Alhassan, he reiterated government’s commitment to fulfilling the provisions of the SDG’s to benefit Nigerian children.
He therefore called on state governments, MDA’s and NGO’s to come up with strategic plans of action aimed at successful implementation of the SDG’s.
“I wish to reiterate this administration commitment to child rights protection.
Issues of child survival, development, protection and participation are issues of rights protected by our constitution and I call on all stakeholders to ensure that these rights are realised and enjoyed by all Nigerian children,” he said.
The Women Affairs Minister Senator Jummai Alhassan, represented by the Permanent Secretary Barrister Phyllis Nwokedi, noted that children are like endangered species who if not well protected, will negatively affect the future of Nigeria.
She therefore called on all stakeholders and the general public to ensure the protection and promotion of child’s rights towards the realization of the SDG’s.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, who was also represented at the ceremony by the FCT Permanent Secretary Babatope Ajakaye, condemned all dorms of VAC, pledging to ensure that children in the FCT are secured.
In his goodwill message, representative of Smile Project Dr.
Emeka Anoje tasked the federal government to ensure all the priority actions towards ending VAC is implemented, saying no form of violence should be tolerated.
Also, the National Population Chairman represented by Bolaji Akinsali, noted that from the findings of VAC ages 2-3 years were not captured in birth survey.
He recommended they are captured so as to have an accurate data of children surfering violence in the country.
“Ages 2-3 were not captured in the birth survey and if captured will represent the full data for VAC instead of survey which captured from 18-30.
FG should budget towards child protection study in Nigeria,” he urged.