By Emmanuel Acha
Catholic Church reverend sisters under the aegis of Africa Faith and Justice Network, Nigeria (AFJN-N), say they are worried by the continuous violation of the rights of children in Enugu State.
The nuns said that their concern was heightened by the fact that the Child’s Right Act had been passed in the state.
Rising from a four-day delegates workshop on Thursday in Enugu, the group undertook to raise awareness in rural communities of the state and across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Catholic nuns paid advocacy visits to the state Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Mrs Peace Nnaji.
The spokesperson for the group, Rev. Sr. Fidelia Alao, said it was sad that some children in the state were still exposed to all forms of dangers both at home and on the streets.
Alao said that the passage of the law in the state was seen as a relief from some of the ills perpetrated against children.
“We are, however, aware that in spite of this legislation, children are still exposed to all forms of danger, violence, abuse and exploitation in our homes and on the streets.
“We continue to see children who should be in school hawking on the streets.
“Children as young as 12 years and below are given into domestic servitude, an act that is against the law.
“We see very young children carrying heavy loads to earn money, especially in Ogbete Market, Abakpa, Garki and many other locations in the state.
“Our babies are treated as goods and sold to the highest bidder,” she said.
Alao described such acts an aberration and inimical to the future of communities.
“As women and conscientious individuals, we know the important role holistic development of a person plays in the life of our communities and our country.”
Alao appealed to the state government to institute measures to enlighten residents of the state on the Child’s Right Law.
She also called for a study of the conditions of rehabilitation centres within the state to ensure that inmates were not warehoused and abused.
“We want government to commission the inspection of government primary schools to evaluate the health environment and ensure that the necessary basic requirements are met.”
Alao urged the state government to initiate a statewide mechanism that would enable abused victims to seek help without fear of reprisals.
Responding, Nnaji said that the state government had instituted measures to check the violation of children’s rights.
She said that state government had zero tolerance for child trafficking, adding that a committee responsible for child adoption was in place.
Nnaji said that the government was doing its best to put in good shape the Rehabilitation Centre in Emene abandoned by the Federal Government.
The commissioner said that there were three Magistrates’ Courts and three state High Courts dedicated to handling cases related to child abuse.
The commissioner thanked the group for its concern on the issue and collaboration in stamping out child abuse in the state.
NAN further reports that reverend sisters and delegates of Catholic Women Organisation across the country participated in the workshop, facilitated by Africa Faith and Justice Network, Washington D.C. (NAN)