Time to prohibit child hawking
Sir: Based on the available figure on the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) website, over 10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria, which is the highest rate globally.
Nonetheless, 47.7 per cent are said to be girls ages from five-14 years and have never set foot in schools, rather engaged in hawking.
Though the country is experiencing a deficit in the educational infrastructure, other parents, particularly in the northern region, prefer hawking for their children than being in the school. The aforesaid behaviours of some parents have thrown and exposed children’s life to jeopardy.
Undoubtedly, street hawking has humongous implications for children’s physical and emotional well-being, particularly girls. It, has, however, exposes them to sexual abuse, physical exhaustion, vehicle accidents, death, malnourishment, drug and substance abuse, and prostitution. Many have been victims of rape, kidnapping, ritual, trafficking, prostitution among other child abuse of various forms.
On this note, and in commemoration of World Women’s Day, I want to implore as well as draw the attention of the Federal Government to implement the Act Prohibiting Children’s Hawking to bring an end to violence against women in Nigeria.
Nigeria as an unsecured nation, it’s not better to legalise girls’ hawking. It is bizarre reading, listening, or watching rape cases on media as it’s happening daily, at various nooks and crannies of the country.
It’s bad to hear that the majority of the children engaged in street hawking are said to have done it for their parents; they prefer sending them to the street to hawk to supplement their income rather than sending them to school though others consider it as another way of getting a means of survival.
Talking about law, Nigeria is a signatory of 1989 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, which was established to protect children from getting involved in any activity that negatively impacts on their health and well-being. The convention also emphasises the need for the government to protect children from exploitation.
Besides, Nigeria’s Child Rights Act has similar provisions for that. It says children should be protected from trafficking and or street hawking. But, I still wonder why the implementation of these laws becomes so difficult for the government, even though the nation is experiencing an insecurity menace of different forms.
Children are still being trafficked, kidnapped, raped by being pushed into the street for hawking despite the dangers associated with it. Therefore, if indeed Nigeria’s government wants to reduce child abuse, trafficking among other abuses, it should better implement the Act protecting children from any form of domestic violence.
Doing so, it will help to curb the menace of raping, kidnapping, drug abuse among other insecurity challenges facing the nation. Finally, I am calling on individuals, parents as well as other authoritative bodies to watch carefully the movement of those kids roaming the streets in the name of hawking so as not to fall into the hands of the unscrupulous elements.
Ukasha Rabiu Magama wrote from Toro, Bauchi State, for Save The Nation Initiative.