Kano, Sokoto, 10 Others Yet to Pass Child Rights Law, Says UNICEF

… 40% of Nigerian women marry before 15 years

Martins Ifijeh

At least 12 Northern states in Nigeria, including Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa and Kaduna are yet to pass the Child Rights Law despite the obvious benefits it portends for children, the Child Protection Specialist, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Sharon Oladiji has said.

Also, the National Populations Commission (NPC) data show that at least 40 per cent of Nigerian women marry before they reach their 15th birthday, while 44 per cent marry before their 18th birthday.

Speaking during a two-day media dialogue on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at 30, organised by UNICEF in Lagos, Oladiji said many of such states due to religion and culture believe some sections of the child rights law need to be amended as it negates their belief or cultural practice.

Other states yet to pass the Child Rights Law are Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Zamfara, Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa.
She said governments at all level should put laws in place to protect the rights of Nigerian children, adding that if this is done, it would encourage implementation and children will consequently grow into better adults in future.

She said: “While we try to bring the rights of children to the knowledge of the public, we also encourage these children on the need to know their rights. Adults, teachers and parents need to know why they must adhere to CRL.”
“Children are individual human beings totally dependent on adults. So, as adults, we must be responsible for how they are treated. Healthy development of a child is crucial to the future and well being of any nation.

“Children are special, we cannot treat them anyhow. Views of children are rarely heard, but we should continue to make efforts to change this,” she stressed.

On his part, another Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Dennis Onoise said it was not only because of culture that many stakeholders refuse to push for the implementation of the Child Rights Law in various states, but that personal interest also plays its part.

“Some stakeholders might refuse to push for this because they know if implementation starts, it may affect them as well,” he noted.

He said it was alarming that about 40 per cent of Nigerian women marry before their 15th birthday, while about 44 per cent marry before their 18th birthday.

“Also, about 28 per cent of women in Nigeria report physical violence before they reach 15 years,” Onoise, who quoted the National Population Commissions report added.

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