TDR: Implementing the Child Rights Act in Northern Nigeria
By Jude Chukwuemeka
DEVELOPMENT REPORT Episode 58 takes a look at Reporter's Diary: "Implementing the Child Rights Act in Northern Nigeria”. This is apt as TDR concentrates on doing a reporter’s dairy on the Child Rights Act media advocacy series for the month of November 2019.
Kano is the place to go to and Nafisa Murtala Ahmad, Unit Head Women & Children / Senior Producer at Express Radio based in Kano hooks up with Femi Obong-Daniels on 99.3 Nigeria Info FM through the phone lines to discuss issues of child rights act in Nigeria. She has covered extensively Children and Women Issues.
To set the ball rolling, Femi reads excerpt from an Op-Ed published on the 24 JUNE 2019 by Nike Adebowale of The Premium Times Online
“Basira (surname withheld), 15, sat on the ground in front of her mud house to breastfeed her nine-month-old baby. She lives with her husband in Yamawa, a village filled with mud houses in Kano State.
Basira was barely 12 years old when her parents married her off to her husband, whom she said is in his late 40s.
"I have been living with the man for the past three years. My parents brought me to my husband's house when I was only 12," Basira said in Hausa.
While many other girls of her age would be under their parents' watch, go to school regularly and are properly cared for, Basira is already breastfeeding a child.
She said she stopped going to school when she was in Primary 3.
"I dropped out of school when I was in Primary 3 and ever since then, I have not gone back to any school," she said.
Ahmad, when responding to questions Femi poses says she’s not sure of when that report was published. As to the substance, the fact that a 12-year-old girl married to a 40-year-old man may or may not be true.
“But as a child rights advocate, I know this type of things are happening, especially in the northern parts of Nigeria. This story is unfair. For the fact that she has been denied a right to go to school, we can say that man is abusing her. Even the parents are abusing her.
“As per schooling in northern Nigeria, especially in Kano, we know that many girls attend school but the challenge is that some are dropping out.”
Femi mentions a statistic from UNICEF, which says only 45 percent of girls in northern Nigeria attend school. However, Ahmad feels statistics can’t be fully relied on. But she believes that Nigerians should be worried and she says that the reason for the worry is that girls are mothers. The mother, she believes, will mould her child and so, should know how to take care of herself and her child.
“If she is not going to school, she may not understand the chances of her own survival and that of her child.”
Femi highlights other hardships facing a girl-child in rural communities. One of them is forced labour that is said to be a girl-child responsibility. But it is usual for one to see boys run around playing football or playing with friends.
“Most of the issues that are now intertwined into what is being called child protection in Kano boils down to two things: Religion and culture,” says Ahmad. However, she says there are efforts being put into having stakeholders on both sides come together and talk about the frictions that tend to set religion and culture against the rules of child protection law.
“This is also a big challenge. One problem is the coming together of the various people calling for the child rights act.
Her call to action?
“I wish this law has been passed. Government should address this issue. Even the boys are hawking and suffering on the streets. So let’s pass this bill and get on with it."
Production Support by: Dipo and Zainab
Produced by; Mayowa Adeniran
Anchor: Femi Obong – Daniels
Development Report is a production of Development Radio Network