By Rodiat Jokodolu.
A Kwara-based non-governmental organization, Grand Charity Youth Development (GCYD), has lamented the escalating rate of girl-child molestation in the state.
Addressing a press conference in Ilorin on Wednesday, the group called on the state government to review and strengthen laws bordering on child rights, having taken into cognizance that the Child Rights Act of 2003 was yet to be domesticated in Kwara.
According to the Director, Legal Unit of GCYD, Mr Ibrahim Shuaib, one in every four young girls in the state are subjected to sexual molestation before the age of 18.
Narrating recent cases of child molestation in the state, Shuaib said: “In the last two months, we have had many petitions submitted to our office particularly as it relates to the abuse of girl-child.
“A six-year-old girl was molested by her neighbor while in another place, a seven-year-old girl was molested by her class teacher. Surprisingly, the school authority connived with the Nigeria Police and Civil Defense Corps (Kwara State Command) to arrest and detain the father of the girl, under the allegation that the father threatened to get the school closed down by the authorities.
“As if that was not enough, barely 72 hours after releasing the father from the custody of the NSCDC, the proprietor of the school filed a direct criminal complaint against him at the Upper Area Court Ilorin, on the frivolous allegation of threat to life and defamation. This is a serious case of pervasion of justice.”
The legal practitioner added that, “It is worrisome that a journalist was equally arraigned in the court of law along with the father of the girl. A discussion with one of the teachers in the school revealed that issues of abuse of the girl-child has been trivialized by the school authority. If I may quote one of the teachers, ‘it isn’t the case of rape but the girl was fingered.’
“We at the Grand Charity Youth Development are calling on the Kwara State government to look into this abuse of girl-child and equally review the child act law of the state as it relates to the punishment and timeframe in which the offender is prosecuted, as well as the civil remedy available for the abused child.”
In his remarks, Arc. Zakirudeen Oladotun, a child rights advocate described the abuse of minors as one of the pervasive violations of human rights in the world, as well as one of the least prosecuted crimes.
“We have to do much more to end this horrible abuse and I think we can all agree that the time for complacency is long gone and belong to another era. The silence on abuse of children has been broken and now is the time for stronger action”, he stated.