Child hawking and other cases of child abuse still persist in Lagos State despite the coming into effect of the Child’s Rights Law
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Apr. 15, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
CHILD abuse still persists in Lagos State despite the signing into law of the Child Rights Law by Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State governor, some years ago. The intent of the law was to stop the social menace of child abuse and eradicate the use of children of school age either by their parents or guardians for street hawking. But there seems to be no end in sight to the social vice.
The number of under aged children hawking in the state seems to be increasing each passing day. Darlington Obi, a 13-year-old boy from Imo State, who is living with his uncle, said he came to Lagos last year after the death of his father, with the intention to continue his secondary education. But rather than being in school, Darlington spends most of his time hawking bottled water and soft drinks at Iyana Iba, along the Lagos-Badagry expressway for the uncle and his wife.
“It was my father’s younger brother who brought me to Lagos. He told my mother that they should allow him bring me to Lagos to continue my education. He also told my mother that it was his responsibility to train me and my younger ones. He even promised to send me to a good school and make sure that I get to the university. But, since then, I have been hawking bottled water and soft drinks at Iyana Iba on a daily basis, even on Sundays after returning from Church. I asked him about my education, and he said I should be serious with the business to raise enough money before going to school,” Obi said, adding that he started hawking a week after he came to Lagos.
Another teenage hawker who identified himself as Sunday Onoja, a 12-year-old-boy, said one of his aunts, with whom he is living in Lagos, brought him from Oturpo in Benue State, after promising his parents that she would help them sponsor their son in school. But Onoja said rather than being asked to go to school, all his aunt is using him to do is hawking of different types of goods at Iyana Ipaja. “They have counted all the goods I am carrying on my head and I must sell all of them before going back home. The earlier I am able to do this the better for me. I always pray to sell everything on time because it makes me to get home on time. I feel very sad any day I experience poor sales because I would face hell when I get home. My aunt gets very angry with me any day I have poor sales as if it is my fault. If she does not abuse me and my parents, she would deny me food that night and tells me that I have refused to bring home the money she would use in feeding me,” he said.
These are just a few out of hundreds of cases of children hawking, begging and engaging in all sorts of menial jobs, against their wishes on a daily basis across the Lagos metropolis. Findings have shown that items which these children hawk in most cases are not more than N1000. Aside from hawking, children between the ages of nine and 15 also engage in learning trades like carpentry, vulcanising, motorcycle repairs, hairdressing, tailoring and cleaning of vehicle windscreens at traffic holdups to earn a living when they should be acquiring basic education.
Enitan Badru, special adviser to the governor on youth and social development, said the government is working with the relevant authorities to end child-hawking in the streets of Lagos. He explained that the state government has programmes meant to sensitise the residents on the existence of the Child Rights Law and the consequences of non-compliance.
“The law prohibits children from child labour and we, on our own part, patrol the streets and rescue children that are hawking or doing menial jobs. We try to go through the Family Social Services Department and trace the guardians or parents, warn them and when they persist, we may prosecute them. In our kind of society, it is not so easy to prosecute because we have to look at the best interest of the child,” he said, adding that when they rescue a child hawking on the streets, they invite the parents, counsel them in a programme that enlightens them that it is illegal to tell the child to hawk and release the child to their custodians.