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UNICEF partners NOA, Kaduna to tackle child molestation

“We want to ensure they understand their roles in helping victims to report abuse incidents.’’

• December 13, 2023
Image used to illustrate the story
Image used to illustrate the story

The United Nations Children Fund has supported the National Orientation Agency and the Kaduna State Ministry of Human Services and Social Development
to strengthen child protection through traditional and religious leaders.

UNICEF will support NOA and the ministry to establish multipurpose community centres to strengthen child protection services in Zaria and Kaduna North LGAs.

Speaking at the closing of the two-day training of religious and traditional leaders on Tuesday in Kaduna, the state Director of NOA, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar, said the engagement was the outcome of a high-profile advocacy visit to the Emir of Zazzau, Ahmed Bamalli, by NOA, MHSSD and the UNICEF.

He explained that the visit to the emir then was to improve the Almajiri system and encourage the enrolment of out-of -school adolescent girls, where an agreement was reached on the need to establish community structures and provide training on child protection services in the state.

Mr Abubakar, therefore, said the training would equip the traditional and religious leaders with the requisite knowledge of child protection.

He added that it was also aimed at educating them on psychosocial support and mental counselling of children in communities.

The director urged the participants to be focused, adding that it would assist them in achieving the objectives of the gathering particularly during the conduct of five-day community dialogue with critical stakeholders which would follow immediately at the community level.

Mr Abubakar thanked UNICEF, Kaduna State Government and other partners for finding NOA worthy of partnership.

He restated the agency’s commitment to ensuring diligence on their part towards protecting children in the state from all forms of violence and neglect.

Also, Social Welfare Officer of MHSSD, Taminu Markus, said child protection was the core mandate of the ministry.

He added that the ministry had been keen in providing social services on issues of abuse, neglect, rape and lost children in the state.

“Presently, the ministry has an orphanage home. The issue has gone so bad to the extent that women give birth and dump the babies in refuse or street,”he lamented.

Mr Markus, therefore, said the ministry usually takes the babies and gives them livelihood support to ensure their survival. 

He urged the participants to respond to issues of child abuse with keen interest, calling on them to ensure due course in following up prosecution of perpetrators.

Mr Abubakar also urged the citizens to handle issues especially of rape with care, adding that such cases should be referred to higher authorities or special places such as the sexual assault referral centres.

A resource person, Rachael Sankey, who presented a paper on psychosocial support and mental counselling, said the training was aimed at helping the participants to understand the situation survivors found themselves in.

Mrs Sankey, who is also a public health nurse at the Gwamna Awon General Hospital, added that it was also to help them see how they could come in as community heads and religious leaders who have influence in society.

“We want to ensure they understand their roles in helping people to report incidents and bring about the change we want to see in our communities,” she said.

She stated that it doesn’t matter how much the government invests in curtailing cases of abuse, if the traditional and religious leaders do not come in to help, the success aimed at would never be achieved.

Mrs Sankey called for massive awareness creation especially to parents to understand that sexual abuses most at times are perpetrated by close family, friends and neighbours.

“Such kind of conversation will help in preventing incidents before it happens, and we wouldn’t have to be struggling to go to court.

“We are looking forward to having a family court in Kaduna where issues of abuses such as rape will be handled in the right environment and ensure speedy justice,” she said.

One of the participants,  the Sarkin Hausawa of Kaduna (Leader of Hausa ethnic group in Kaduna), Mallam Musa Mahmood, commended UNICEF and other stakeholders for expanding the scope towards child protection.

He pledged to make use of his position to advocate the rights of children and stand up against their abuses of different types.

Mr Mahmood advised the state government and Nigeria to create an account dedicated to taking care of children especially victims of sexual abuse. 

Another participant, the CAN Secretary in Kaduna South, Rev. Solomon Bidoli, lamented the rise in rape cases in the state.

Describing rape as a menace, he pledged to redouble his efforts in using the pulpit to stress the need for proper child upbringing and speak out against abuse of children and adults.

The training, supported by UNICEF, was facilitated by NOA in collaboration with the Kaduna State MHSSD.

The participants were drawn from Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Chikun, Igabi and Zaria LGAs of the state.

(NAN)

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