Ambode’s wife calls for end to violence against children

Bolanle AmbodeThe wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, on Wednesday said the state government would continue to maintain zero tolerance against any form of abuse, neglect or exploitation of children.
Ambode made the assertion at the launch of the state’s Response Plan of Action to End Violence against Children (VAC) in Lagos.
It was organised by the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in collaboration with the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF).
She, however, urged Nigerians to put all hands on deck to stop all forms of violence against children in the country.
“It is not the job for the government or its regulatory authorities alone.
“Charity must begin at home; redress must start from the way we handle our own children, wards, foster children, house helps and other children over whom we have authority.
“We must be humane enough in our dealings with them, regardless of social class, ethnic backgrounds, religion or relationships.
“Their rights to fair treatment and to live happily anywhere at all times must always be respected,” she said.
Ambode said the state government, through its Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation and that of Justice, had facilitated a law to protect children and women from violence and rights abuse.
“Under that law, which has been in force for some time now, children and women were protected all round and violators of the provisions were prosecuted and are still being prosecuted,” she said.
Also speaking, Ms Marta Santos Pais, a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, said that making the true extent of violence visible was critical to mobilising public support toward its elimination.
According to her, it lays the foundation for the implementation of an evidence-based national and state level policy response and for monitoring progress along the way.
Pais said that violence in childhood was associated with many risks, including poor mental and physical health and poor school performance.
“Its impact is often irreversible, especially among very young children, leaving long lasting scars which severely undermine children’s wellbeing and development.
“But much beyond the negative impact on child victims and their families, violence weakens the very foundation of social progress,’’ she said.
She added that violence generates huge cost for society, slows economic development and erodes human and social capital.
In her remarks, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Ms Jean Gough, said that violence against children was a problem that transcends social and economic status.
Gough, highlighting the VAC survey launched by the Federal Government in September 2015, said: Violence “ impacts rich and poor, urban and rural, educated and out of school children.
“The findings of the survey highlight that violence is not confined to poor families nor to marginalised children or children living in the shadow of conflict.
“Violence against children is not somebody else’s problem, it is everyone’s problem.”
Mr Eze Duruheoma, the Chairman, National Population Commission, on his part said that six of 10 children in Nigeria had experienced one form of violence or the other.
Duruheoma said that this was based on the VAC National Survey conducted in 2014.
“It is discovered that that perpetrators are mostly relatives and teachers and the key places such violence happen are in the homes and schools.
“Lack of awareness on how to seek redress or help by violated children also contributed to the high rate of the menace.
“Therefore, there is the need to intensify and invest in enlightenment and advocacy programmes,” he said.

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