On Tuesday, news broke that 10-year old Jamilu Aliyu was chained with goats and forced to eat animal feed for two years, soon after his mother died. He was rescued after neighbours discovered the gory sight and spread the video footage. The boy was rescued by the Kebbi State government, due largely to the intervention of the International Federation of Women Lawyers and the National Human Rights Commission.
What is particularly important here is that Nigeria has a notorious history of child abuse, child maltreatment, child violence, child marriage, child sexual violence and/or child prostitution. UNICEF Nigeria estimates that 6 out of every Nigerian child experience some sort of child violence. 1 in 4 Nigerian girl child experiences sexual violence while 23 million Nigerian children are married off as illegal brides yearly – the largest such number in Africa.
It is clear that there is a pervasive case of child abuse in Nigeria, rooted in social norms and the use of violence in not whatever form.
WHAT MUST BE DONE?
The Child Rights Act was passed into law by the National Assembly in 2003, but has not been domesticated into law by, at 11 states – Bauchi, Yobe, Sokoto, Adamawa, Borno, Zamfara, Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa and Kano. A situation which makes the law ineffective on a national level. Therefore, we propose that the National Ministry of Women Affairs must begin immediate advocacy of the passage of this law in the eleven Northern states. Until this is done, we can’t even begin the discussion about child abuse in Nigeria.