The Ebonyi Government says it will stop street hawking to eradicate the abuse of school-aged children in the state.
Mr Godwin Igwe, the Head of Child Development, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, made this known on Tuesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki.
Igwe said, “The ban is aimed at curbing all forms of child abuse, child labour and neglect.’’
According to him, such abuses, as noticed in the state, include child abuse, child trafficking and other forms of violence against children.
He explained that through hawking, children could be subjected to rape, ritual killings and trafficking, among other related cases.
“Children hawking, whether after, during school hours or weekends, is not allowed.
“If caught, the person will be punished,’’ Igwe said.
He added that the ministry would work in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Education, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Nigeria Peace Corp (NPC), among others to achieve its goals.
“Child abuses and violence against children have been seen as custom and normal ways of treating children in the society and such trend ought to be redressed.
“It is based on this that we want to sensitise the public against this negative practice.
“Some people do not know that it is wrong to maltreat a child, neglect or subject the child to torture or any form of inhuman treatment,’’ Igwe said.
He decried the increasing rate of child abuse and charged parents and guardians of victims to report such cases to the appropriate authority.
Igwe added that perpetrators of such acts would be treated accordingly, to serve as deterrent to others.
He also spoke against the attitude of some parents, whom he said, collected money from the perpetrators for settlement without minding the damage caused on the victims.
He advised parents to always monitor the activities of their children so as to prevent the future recurrence.
The ministry official said that Police should be encouraged to assist in ensuring the protection of children rights.
He emphasised the readiness of the ministry to work with the police so that the welfare, survival and development of a child would be protected.
Igwe added that the media would also be engaged in the dissemination of information.
“We implore the judiciary to given attention to cases of child abuse.
“Legal personnel, who have undergone training on child rights, should be given the chance to handle such case.
“We have plan to invite local government chairmen, social workers and stakeholders to sensitise them on the need to step-up measures against child abuse, especially in the rural areas, which seem to be worst hit.’’
Also, the Desk Officer, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in the ministry, Mrs Florence Onwa, confirmed the increasing rate of child abuse.
Onwa said that campaigns had been taken to market places and industrial sites, while the ministry was also making arrangement for advocacy visits to the traditional, community and opinion leaders in the state.
“Parents should stop sending their children to unknown persons; but if there is need to do so, they ought to be sure of whom the intending masters and mistresses are,’’ she said.