By ALEX ENEBELI
ENUGU- Some stakeholders fighting for the protection of women and children’s rights in Enugu have decried the high rate of child abuse in various communities in Enugu.
They stated this during a Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum to consider and adopt strategies for the implementation of Child Rights Laws in Enugu State on Wednesday.
The event was organised by the Women Aid Collective (WACOL), in partnership with The Agents for Citizens-driven Transformation (ACT) Programme, funded by European Union and implemented by British Council.
Speaking at the event, the Research Coordinator, Development Strategy Centre, Enugu, Mr David Agu, said the study they conducted on Gender-Based Violence in Aug. 2022 showed an increase in child abuse in the state.
According to him, the centre carries out an advocacy on child abuse which is evidence based, using four Council Areas from the three Senatorial zones in the state as a sample.
He said, “Sometime this year, EU ACT programme wanted us to create an awareness on the level of child abuse in Enugu.
“So some NGOs agreed to work with them to increase the level of implementation of Child Rights Laws in Enugu and as a centre we saw the need to do a study on child abuse in the state.
“In the four LGAs, four communities were selected in a way that it will represent the state and data were collected from students and households in those communities.”
Agu said their findings revealed that there were still high prevalence of child abuse, comprising child labour, physical, sexual and emotional abuses in the state.
Relying on the data collected, Agu said 50 per cent males, especially in Enugu West LGA, followed by Awgu, Oji-River, Udi and Igboeze North LGAs, suffered child labour.
Agu said the study further showed that the factors responsible for child labour in Enugu to include child fending for himself for survival, child living with others aside their parents and those subjected to it by their own parents.
The coordinator added that good number of children in Enugu missed school and classes while others dropped out of school within the period of the study to engage in economic activities to help their parents.
He said that the level of awareness on Child Rights Laws in the state was less than 50 per cent in all the 17 LGAs of the state , adding there were no database for child abuse.
Also, the Ms Kobi Ikpo, the State Focal Person, ACT programme in Enugu, said some consortium in the state were engaged by EU to implement Child Rights Laws in Enugu and WACOL was one of them.
She said: “WACOL has gone to field and they are presenting their findings to Enugu populace, to tell them what they found in their research.
“With the advocacy, the CSOs and government agencies in Enugu can now use it to engage public to see how they can stop the child abuses and other harmful practices against children in the state.
Earlier, the Executive Director, WACOL, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, said the research by the group indicated high cases of child abuse in the state, hence, the need to sensitise the people.
She stated EU assisted them to carry out an intervention to see how the menace can be curbed.
Ezeilo, represented by the Programme Manager WACOL, Mrs Anuli Ezennia, said they would use the workshop to sensitise Enugu people to existence of Child Rights Laws in the state.
“The idea is to facilitate the implementation of the child law, educate people and seek strategies on full implementation of the laws,” Ezeilo said.
On the topic: “Provisions of the Child Rights Laws of Enugu State,” Dr Festus Ukwueze said government was unable to implement the law because of its provisions.
Ukwueze from the Law Faculty, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, said “Government is in obligation under the law in Enugu to provide every child with quality education, healthcare, good drinking water and others”.