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Group tasks C’River govt to enforce Child Rights Law

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

The increased number of street children in Calabar, the Cross River state capital, has drawn the ire of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Centre for Social Studies and Development which blamed the issue on the inability of the state government to implementing the Child Rights Law it domesticated.

Mr Ken Henshaw, executive director of the NGO (also known as ‘We the People’), in a presentation during a seminar in Calabar, lamented that despite the domestication of the law in the state, it had turned a blind eye to all abused children, particularly street children.

In a presentation titled ‘Left to Die: Forgotten Street Children of Calabar, Henshaw said “The protection which these frameworks offer for children has turned out to be practically ineffectual at best and non-existent at worse in protecting children.

“In Cross River state, the degrading conditions children are exposed to remained unchecked. The phenomenon of street children continues because of the weakness or unwillingness of government in implementing its own laws.”

He said his team’s investigations indicated that street children were exposed to untold hardship/hunger, sexual exploitation, drug abuse, prostitution, health hazards and untimely deaths from ritualists.

The director said that despite the ugly experience of street children and their need to survive, government allowed the challenge to fester with the children now growing to hate the society and, therefore, constituting themselves into nuisances and government approach being punitive instead of corrective.

He said the failure of government to implement the Child Rights Law and punish offenders accordingly, dysfunctional parentage, societal neglect and diluted form of Pentecostal Christianity were responsible for increase in number of street children.

In her remarks, one of the 4-man panel of discussants who brainstormed on the way forward, Mrs Dodeye Bassey, said the menace could be tackled if government could prioritise the welfare of street children, adding, “if 20 percent of the Child Rights Law is implemented, the issue will gradually come to an end.”

Mrs Pamela Braides, a civil society organisation chieftain in the state, who also spoke, called for the establishment of NAPTIP office in Calabar to checkmate issues of child abuse. She also appealed to the state government to save abandoned street children of Calabar.

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