The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Alhassan, on Monday said that the Federal Government was evolving new strategies to ensure safe schools in the country.
Alhassan made this known at workshop titled “Elimination of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Nigeria” organised by Jose Foundation in Abuja.
Represented by the Director of Social Welfare in the ministry, Ms Tope Gbangboye, Alhassan said a multi sectoral approach was being adopted for safety of children in the country.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is evolving new strategy of multi sectoral collaborations to guarantee safe schools in the North East and the entire country to ensure that no child remains in captivity.
“Children constituted 60 per cent of the country’s population and they were key for sustainable development.
“The Federal Government through the ministry, in collaboration with partners remain committed to the coordination of emergency responses.
“The inauguration of the Joint National Task Force for the prevention of violence against children in Nigeria is a reflection of government’s commitment.
“Government will ensure the training of juvenile police officers with the view to enhancing their capacity to prevent child sexual abuse.
“The capacity of officers for better interpretation of laws as regards to detention, investigation and prosecution of culprits is being built,’’ she added.
Alhassan canvassed international support for law enforcement agencies and urged officers to ensure that victims get adequate support and protection during investigation and prosecution of crimes.
The minister commended the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for scaling up actions to eliminate the use of the mass media technology to either facilitate or commit child sexual exploitation.
She urged the foundation to continue in their commitment to the elimination of child sexual abuse and not to relent in scaling up inter sectoral cooperation to stamp out the menace.
In her remarks, the Country Representative of the foundation, Mrs Eunice Pius said that the foundation intends to end child sexual abuse in the country by 2030.
She said every six out of 10 girls have been abused and that the foundation was out to fight child sexual abuse and ensure that victims get justice against predators.
Pius said that there is a challenge of not reporting cases of child sexual abuse by families of victims for cultural or social reasons.
To address the challenge, she said that the foundation had developed an application that runs on android devices called the “CSE App” where any child can report cases of abuse.
She also said that in some reported cases, families of victims drop charges against offenders when offered money.
“We face some challenges which is largely as a result of poverty, families of victims drop charges when they are offered money.
“We are trying to make sure we put every machinery in place by involving the Police and the Ministry of Justice to ensure that any one guilty of child molestation, does not go free.
“Our children are so precious to us, we do not want them molested for it has psychological, physiological and intellectual effect on them; as victims life never remain the same,” she said.
Pius called on Nigerians to support the foundation in the fight against child sexual abuse especially in the war torn North East region.
She stressed the need for all stakeholders to speak out and defend children, adding that success could only be achieved through effective synergy.
Pius said that the foundation was collaborating with agencies saddled with the responsibility to address extreme poverty to ensure better life for children.
She said that the collaboration was necessary as most victims were from very poor homes with little or nothing to live on.
Pius said foreign experts had been invited to the workshop to join forces with local ones to do justice to the matter.
The official said that the foundation intends to train government officials especially the Police, on ways to stop child sexual exploitation.