THE Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is conducting a National Survey on Violence against children with the support of the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Population Commission (NPC). The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, explained that the survey is expected to provide data on prevalence rate of violence in terms of gender, geography and nature of cases. Maina stated this in Abuja at a roundtable discussion on emerging issues of Girl Child Protection in West Africa organized by the Ford Foundation.

According to the Minister, “the outcome of the survey will provide Nigeria with accurate and research-based data that will ensure informed and evidence-based programming for effective child protection in the country, especially in view of the emerging issues affecting the social and security protection of the girl-child in Nigeria.” Hajiya Maina recalled that the Federal Government inaugurated a National Joint Task Force for the prevention of child sexual abuse and other forms of violence against children. She stated, “The establishment of the task force was particularly informed by the emerging social problems articulated above due to the Federal Government’s concern of the negative consequences on the girl child”.

She added that other interventions being embarked upon by her Ministry to protect the girl child include advocacy on the negative consequences of early marriage and ensuring access to adequate and quality health services as enshrined in the Child Rights Act. Meanwhile, the Minister also reiterated her call for the release of the abducted Chibok school girls, describing the act as disheartening and totally condemnable. “We continue to pray that the girls will be saved and returned safely to their respective families”, Hajiya Maina said. In his address, the Secretary General, West African Civil Society Forum, Abdoulaye Diallo stressed the need for Child Rights to be given top priority at both regional and national agenda. “Child Rights should be handled as a developmental priority rather than only as a human rights or religious issue. It is regrettable that Child Rights issues are not a priority under the ECOWAS legislation,” said Diallo. Speaking in the same vein, the representative of Ford West Africa, Innocent Chukwuma said the threat of the Girl-Child being endangered was more of a reality now than ever before.

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