Child protection campaign received a boost in January 2021 with the assenting to a bill that seeks to protect children from abuse in Katsina State, northwest Nigeria.
Governor Aminu Masari assented to the Child Protection Bill two months after the Katsina State House of Assembly passed it.
With this development, 26 out of Nigeria’s 36 states have legalised child protection, with Bauchi, Yobe, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa, Borno, Zamfara, Gombe, Kebbi, and Jigawa yet to pass the law.
Katsina is one of the northern states affected by child marriages and street children (Almajiri) menace in Nigeria – a country where nearly three in ten girls have experienced physical violence by age 15, according to the Nigeria Democratic Health Survey (NDHS).
The Act, which is divided into ‘survival rights, development rights, participation rights, and protection rights’, covers key aspects of the lives of children and adolescents.
According to the new law, the Sharia will take precedence if any matter concerning a Muslim child goes against the religious law. Islam is the predominant religion in the state.
But on marriage, the law argues that a child’s maturity goes beyond the idea of puberty, noting that ‘there should be counselling by parents to evaluate the development of their children before marrying them off’.
One of the vibrant child protection campaigners in Nigeria, Save the Children International (SCI), has commended the Katsina State government for passing the law.
The organisation works with civil society organisations (CSOs), child champions, community, religious and traditional leaders in the state.
‘We worked closely with the Children’s Parliament in the State, and SCI is glad to see the role that children played in the process leading up to the passing of this bill’, the organisation had said in its reaction to the passing of the bill in November 2020.
‘It further demonstrates how far children can go if they are given opportunities to express themselves and speak up for the issues that concern them.
‘Save the Children International Nigeria will continue its collaboration and partnership with State parties involved in the domestication process of the Bill for its proper rollout and implementation’.
Source: Save the Children Nigeria
Photo source: Save the Children Nige