Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tope Aigba: Beyond The Petitions To Save The Girl Child, Lets Move To Second Gear


The #ChildNotBride Campaign: What it is all about.

On Friday 19th July 2013, the frenzy move for the #girlchild began after the failure of the Senate to expunge S.29 (4B) of the CFRN that was undergoing amendment.

So as not to be misrepresented, I’ll explain what transpired and why we took the stand we did. 

Section 29 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates the conditions for renouncing of citizenship by a Nigerian who is of a “full age”. Section 29(4) now defines what full age means for the renouncing of citizenship. 

S 29(4b) was deficient in two areas; 

a. it was categorically gender based 

b. Any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age and here lies our concern. This clause can be misinterpreted to mean that even a girl of under 18years that is married will be deemed to be of full age and thus can renounce her citizenship.

This section contradicts Section 21 of the Child Rights Act which state that ‘’No person under the age of 18 years is capable of contracting a valid marriage, and accordingly, a marriage so contracted is null and void and of no effect whatsoever.’’ and Section 23 further provides the terms of punishment to the offender of child marriage and betrothals.

What necessitated our campaign can be hinged on Section 1 of the Child Rights Act 2003 which states that ‘’IN EVERY ACTION CONCERNING A CHILD,WHETHER UNDERTAKEN BY AN INDIVIDUAL,PUBLIC OR PRIVATE BODY,INSTITUTIONS OR SERVICE,COURT OF LAW,OR ADMINISTRATIVE OR LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY,THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD SHALL BE THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION.’’

We are of the opinion that the decision taken by the Senate by re-voting on this issue is not in the best interest of the child especially the #girlchild as this case refers. 

Every child is entitled to respect for the dignity of his/her person and according to S. 11(a) of the ChildRights Act, ‘’no child shall be subjected to physical, mental or emotional injury, abuse, neglect or maltreatment including sexual abuse’’.

But as we canvass for the best interest of the child at all times, it is disheartening to know that The Child Rights Act that was passed in 2003 is yet to be domesticated in all the states of the federation. As at now, 12 states have not domesticated this Act. 
If this Act is not domesticated in these states, how can it be enforceable on the people therein?

The #ChildNotBride campaign is a start off point to correct a lot of ills in our nation especially as it pertains to the right of the child. Work has started in earnest and it’s not stopping with signing and delivering the petitions only. 

The Child Rights Act must be domesticated in all the states of the federation and not only domestication but subsequent implementation.

We want the Child Rights Act to be entrenched into the Constitution.

We also lay emphasis to the issue of education for all and good economic policies for the governed. This is because the main reason why some parents push out their children or ward for early marriage or child labour is poverty. And research has shown that the poorer a family, the more reproductive the family is because of idle time.

When there is a boost in the economy and there is work to be done and education is relatively cheap if not free, then this practice of child marriage or child labour will phase out and consequently be a thing of the past.

Together We Can!

You can engage me on twitter - Topsyken

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