The United Nations Children Education Fund on Tuesday urged the media to set agenda on issues of sexual abuse on children in order to protect them from all kinds of violence.
Kaduna Chief Field Officer of UNICEF, Dr. Zakari Adam, made the call during a media briefing to launch grassroots reorientation on ending sexual violence against children, organised by the National Orientation Agenct and Kaduna State Government.
The re-orientation programme is scheduled to take place in 60 local communities in six local government area in the state.
The local government areas are Jema’a, Chikun, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi and Zaria.
Adam said the media had a major role to play in sensitising the public on issues related to sexual abuse against children, and with support from non governmental organisations, end sexual violence against children.
He commended the Kaduna State Government for the strong political will in ensuring that children were protected by passing the child welfare and protection law, adding that UNICEF was always ready to support interventions made in ending violence against children.
In her keynote address, wife of the Kaduna State Governor, Hajiya Asiya El-Rufai, noted that sexual abuse had been happening for long, but was becoming a pandemic in recent times across the country.
El-Rufai said: “It is heartbreaking that children and infant are targeted by these predators; I want to point out that this problem is not peculiar to Kaduna but Kaduna is our primary responsibility.
“I want to highlight few efforts made by the Kaduna State Government to protect the child; it is one of the first state to domesticate and pass the child welfare law in Nigeria.”
She added that the state also passed the criminal and justice law to ensure perpetrators of rape were punished and also established sexual assault referral centres in locations close to the people.
El-Rufai lamented over the sharing of videos of survivors of rape, adding that the way both survivors and alleged offenders were engaged usually affects the quality of intervention that can be given by government.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, spoke on: “Child sexual abuse: issues, challenges and actions.”
She explained that child sexual abuse included inappropriate sexual talk, fondling, child ponography, child prostitution among others, adding that offenders risk long imprisonment.
Baba urged parents and caregivers to show interest in their children’s daily life, teach them to speak up, get to know the people they interact with and teach them values.
In his closing remarks, the Kaduna State Director of NOA, Alhaji Zubair Galadima-Soba, expressed appreciation to the state government and UNICEF for their support in ensuring that the Nigerian child is protected.
Galadima-Soba mentioned that the agency would begin community dialogue on ending sexual violence on Thursday, where 60 communities would be visited and interacted with using local dialect.
The director disclosed that the dialogue would last for 10 days from 8am to 6pm, with theatre for development used in passing messages to the communities.
“We must do our best anytime, anywhere we find ourselves that children are safe and that the issue of child upbringing is everybody’s responsibility,” he said.