Journalists Tasks On Girl-child Abuse Issues

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By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos.

Media practitioners in Nigeria have been charged to attach more importance to cases of Girl-Child abuses in their reportage, with a view to curb the trend in the country.

The chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ) Lagos chapter, Hajia Sekinat Lawal and National Secretary Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, NRHJN, Mrs. Yinka Shokunbi made the appeal in their presentations at a one day sensitization workshop for journalists on adequate reporting of Girl-Child Abuse in Nigeria media, held in Lagos.

The frontline journalists and advocates against all forms of child abuse, averred that the issue of girl child abuse has been under reported by the Nigerian media.

Asserting that the under reportage or total neglect has given rise to the trend, the duo maintained that such an issue must always be given prominence and put in the front burner by the media.

In her paper titled ” Challenges, Policies and What Media Practitioners Can Do to Stem Child Rights Abuse”, Lawal submitted that ending girl-child abuse and related issues is a task journalists must accord prominence in their reportage.

Pointing out that journalists play very vital role as agenda setters, policy influencers and watchdog of the society, Lawal contended that they in a better position to put an end to girl child abuse in the country since they play a critical role in shaping the society.

“Ending girl-child abuse and related issues is a task for all because it is about our daughters, our wives, our sister and the likes. More importantly, journalists play very vital role as agenda setters,policy influencers and watchdog of the society. Hence, there is the need to encourage journalists to do more on the issue of girl child by writing and raising issues around the girl child”, the right activist stressed.

Speaking further, the NAWOJ chairperson noted that there are good policies that guide against social ills, but lamented that implementation has been the bane of successive governments.

Informing that Nigeria is signatory to many United Nations and International bodies policies, Lawal remarked that implement the policies has been a major challenge to the leaders, adding that journalists are the ones to make the leaders do the needful.

She however applauded Lagos state government and few others for domesticating the Child Rights Law, while calling on other states to follow suit.

The NAWOJ chairperson also cautioned journalists against praising politicians for executing projects, saying that was the purpose they were elected into public offices.

Rather, she emphasized that media reports should focus on exposing their vices as well as correcting the societal ills of which abuse of girl-child is inclusive.

“Through our writings and programmes, we must encourage all stakeholders in this regard which include parents, lawmakers, lawyers,police and members of the communities to be on same page in ending all forms of abuse. I believe it is our lackadaisical attitude that has really make this abuse to work”, she further stressed.

Shokunbi, in her own paper titled “Understanding  Various Form of Abuse Against the Girl Child “,  emphasised that the role of media practitioners is not just to report the ills and abuses or violence but constitute themselves as media advocates and stakeholders to expose the perpetrators, help save the girl child by educating and equipping their mothers with information to safe guard the wellbeing of the girl child.

Disclosing that ten core rights were adopted by the 1990 UN Convention as Rights of the Child, the HRHJN scribe added that the Act prohibits child marriage and an offender is liable on conviction to the sum of N500,000 or five years imprisonment or both.

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