Child Abuse: Lagos Records 2,674 In 16 Months – Ministry

…36% married women suffer sexual, emotional violence

By: Okosun Dennis

Lagos State has recorded a whooping 2,674 cases of child abuses from rape and physical assault within 16 months, Ministry of Youths and Social Development has authoritatively stated on Tuesday.

A statistical analysis of incidences was disclosed during a 4-day Media Dialogue with journalists on Ethical Reporting and Advocacy to Eliminate Violence Against Women And Girls organised by Spotlight Initiative Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Lagos.

A breakdown of reported cases as presented by the Ministry indicated that Child Abuse has risen exponentially within last year. However, available figures shows that “in year 2020; Rape and assault cases were 1005, Physical Abuse 376, Child Abandonment 121, Lost but Found 143, Child Labour 150, Neglected/Emotional Abuse 164 and parents seeking shelter for their children 195.

However, between January to April, 2021, shows that there seems to be a gradual decline in reported cases as Rape, assault cases were 213, physical abuse 94, child abandonment 40, lost but found 45, child labour 42, neglected/emotional abuse 44 and parents seeking shelter for their children 52.

However, in the case of Violence Against Women And Girls (VAWG) in Nigeria, experts disclosed that 36 per cent of married women have experienced one form of physical, sexual or emotional violence in the hands of their spouses.

In his summation, Denis Onoise, a Child Protection Specialist with UNICEF, stressed that perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence, were mostly spouses and intimate partners.

Onoise, who was represented by Foluke Omoworare, the Coordinator, Spotlight Initiative Lagos, said one in every four girls has experienced sexual violence, adding that, violence is rarely an isolated incident and majority of children surveyed experienced violence in the home.

According to her, women and girls with disabilities are twice as likely to experience violence of any form than those without any physical challenge.

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The Director, National Orientation Agency, Lagos, Mr. Waheed Ishola in a similar vein, also said the media dialogue focuses on women and girls, noting that it is aimed at addressing the negative socio-cultural norms attached to reporting cases of violence.

Ishola said some of the perceived reasons for prevalence of abuse of women and girls include, “poverty, indecent dressing among adolescent girls, missing parental care, quest for money, fame and political position by women.” Others include: “neglect of family values, inability of men to manage their home, illicit drug/substance abuse, ritualistic purposes, and fear of stigmatisation.”

In his opening remarks, the Chief of Operations, UNICEF Lagos, Muhammad Okorie said violence against women is a global issue, adding that this trend threatens women’s inability to achieve their full potential.

According to him, before now, more than half of the women that were victimised concerning sexual and other forms of violence never complained nor reported their experiences.

However, with the current global movement to end such violence, it has become imperative to work towards changing the trend. “We are counting on the media to champion this course. If we can’t eradicate this problem, at least we can reduce it to the barest minimum.

“The meeting is to ensure that we end VAWG. The media is in a vantage position to reach a larger audience since they have more access through their report to speak to stakeholders,” he reiterated.

In her contribution, the Assistant Director in the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Olasunmbo Daniel said the state Ministry through its Child Protection Unit response to cases of abuse and protect children from significant harm.

It was learnt that the Ministry works collaboratively and effectively with partners in different capacity to ensure violence is reduced to the barest minimum in the society.

She stated, “UNICEF as the major UN partner working with the ministry has supported the Child Protection Unit in addressing cases of child abuse with their technical and financial commitment over the years.

“With the collation of data on a platform, Child Protection Information Management System (CPIMS) on cases of Child Protection concerns, handled by different stakeholders in the state. This helps in planning for specific and possible solution.”

Post Author: Friday Ekeoba