ONE of the most popular ways of drawing public attention to an issue is through drama performances, and this is what members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Oyo State Drama Club did when they highlighted the issue of child abuse in the country during a stage performance recently.
The event, organised by the Mother and Girl-Child Protection Initiative (MAGI), a non-governmental organisation based in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was aimed at sensitising school girls and parents to the risk girls are exposed to everyday as they go about their normal lives.
The performance by the corps members focused on Chichi, an orphaned girl who was taken to her late parents’ relatives in Lagos. Instead of Chichi to be supported to acquire education, her new family turned her into a domestic help, and while other children of the house went to school, Chichi was at home doing domestic chores.
Several times, her uncle’s wife beat her whenever she failed to do any work, or whenever she became tired after working for long hours.
While Chichi’s case was going on, Deborah, who stayed with her mother, was also experiencing another form of child abuse, as she sold bread for her mother in a bid to earn a living for the family to survive on.
On several occasions, Deborah met men who made passes at her while hawking bread, and despite telling her mother about such concerns, she (the mother) waved her off, saying she should only be focused on selling her bread.
One day, Deborah’s fears became real when she was abducted and was repeatedly raped by a group of boys while hawking bread. However, when news got to her mother that her daughter had been raped, all she was after was whether her bread had not been stolen by those who raped her daughter.
The play by the corps members highlighted the problem facing the society as far as child abuse is concerned, and the founder of MAGI, Alhaja Adijat Titilade Malik, in her opening remarks on the occasion, said the event was aimed at sensitising young school girls and parents on the dangers of child abuse, as well as how to go about preventing such.
Alhaja Malik commended its partnership with several female professional organisations like the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA), among other organisations in their collaboration towards ending violence against women and the girl-child.
The founder of the organisation, thereafter, highlighted her success stories in her efforts towards empowering the womenfolk in the country.
Also in her remarks on the occasion, Chief (Mrs) Folake Solake (SAN) cited several sections of the Nigerian constitution where it is against the law to abuse the girl-child, or be violent against women.
Chief Solanke, who was the chairperson at the event, then commended MAGI for the good work it is doing by protecting the womenfolk, and particularly, the girl-child.
One of the speakers on the occasion, Mrs Funso Adegbola, explained that child abuse is an art that is detrimental to the welfare of the child, stating that the rights of children are also human rights.
Mrs Adegbola said one of the basic rights of a child is access to education, “and an educated child is hard to enslave.
“We must ensure that our children get education, especially at a time when over 10 million Nigerian children are out of school.
“We must also continue to work against those practices that degrade our female children, like female genital mutilation, sexual abuse, child marriage, exposure to harm through hawking, among others,” Mrs Adegbola said.
At the end of the event, stakeholders in the area of protection of the girl-child charged the Federal and state governments to strengthen social welfare in the country, as well as the security agencies so that the rights of the girl-child can be protected at all times.