Lagos State Governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode today at the Federal Palace Hotel Lagos launched a groundbreaking campaign to end violence against children. By doing so, Lagos became the first State in Nigeria to respond to the call of the President and Commander in Chief of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, for every State to initiate their own campaigns during the national Year of Action to End Violence against Children, which was launched on September 15, last year.
Yesterday’s launch was collaboration between Lagos state, the US Mission in Nigeria, UNICEF and other development partners. “We have a clear moral, legal and economic imperative to end violence against children” says Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, “We cannot allow the findings or the priority actions to remain on paper.”
Millions of children suffer violence every year in Nigeria – approximately six out of every 10 children experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years, according to the Nigeria Violence against Children Survey, carried out by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The survey, which was presented to the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais at the Lagos State launch by the Chairman of the National Population Commission Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), found that: one in two children experience physical violence; one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence; and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence. The majority of children do not tell anyone what has happened to them and fewer than five per cent receive the help they need to recover.
“The study is a remarkable example of how research can bring to light the hidden face of violence against children” said Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children, Ms Marta Santos Pais. “Making the true extent of violence visible is critical to mobilize public support and generate steady action towards its elimination.”
At the launch of the campaign, Lagos State announced the priority actions to be taken by state and non-state actors in short-term and long-term to effectively prevent and respond to violence against children. These priority responses were developed by a multi sectoral Technical Working Group from the State Ministries for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Education, health, Social Welfare, Justice, Information and the National Orientation Agency, Prison Service, Police, Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations and Faith Based Organizations.
“While national level commitments are important, how these commitments are translated into action at state, local government area and ward level is critical” says Ms. Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. “UNICEF congratulates Lagos on setting an example for the rest of Nigeria. We hope that where Lagos has led the way, other States will follow.”
“We have made progress in this fight but much still remains to be done” added U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, Maria E. Brewer. “All children must be protected from abuse, violence, exploitation, and neglect. Violence against children is never justified. Violence is preventable”.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on February 25, 2016.