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Type of document: News
Topic: Actions/initiatives/projects
Geographic descriptors: Nigeria
Language: English
Source: www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/features/labour/lb222122005.html
Date of publication: 22 December 2005
Long Abstract: WOCON, ILO educate Lagosians on Child Labour, HIVAIDS

By Margaret Odeyemi

Posted to the Web: Thursday, December 22, 2005

As part of activities to mark the annual 16 days of activism against gender violence, which is commemorated world wide from November 25 to December 10, the Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) recently in Lagos organised a two-day workshop to sensitise the people on Child Labour and Prevention of the spread of HIVAIDS.

In her welcome address, Executive Director of WOCON, Mrs. Bisi Olateru-Olagbegi said “our children are the leaders of tomorrow and this is why we all have a responsibility to protect them from abuses as child trafficking, child labour, and prevent them from contacting sexually transmitted diseases including HIVAIDS.”

According to her,“as we all know, Lagos as a vibrant city filled with people from all over Nigeria has one of the biggest influxes of children in the labour market today. Every year thousands if not millions of children are removed either with the aid of parents and guardians or through peer influence from their homes and trafficked or placed in labour in cities such as Lagos. Although the major reason for the large influx of children is to avoid the effects of biting poverty in the rural communities and to search for a better life / brighter future.”

She added that, “Child trafficking and Child labour have become a common phenomenon in the African setting and this is because child labour is cheap labour and a child can be easily controlled as opposed to an adult who knows her right. There is a child domestic servant in virtually every Nigerian home you come across. Experience has shown that these children are discriminated against because of their obvious impoverished background.”

Mrs. Olagbegi noted that “traffickers are victims of several human rights abuses as most of the children in the labour market are denied the right to education, right to good standard of living, right to health while facing physical and sexual abuse. Most of the parents are ignorant of the plights of their children and believe that their children are being well taken care of. As a result of the traumatic experiences of these children, they become liability not only to themselves but to the society as a whole.”

“Worse still the children in labour are at grave risks of contacting sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS as a result of the sexual abuse from their employers and family members, co-adult workers, miscreants and members of the society. These children are also moved around a lot and in the process they may transmit these diseases to their employers and/or children in any homes they end up staying at. This moving about is one of the ways that the dreaded disease is spread amongst people without them even knowing that they have contacted the disease.”

Speaking further she said “according to the United Nations press release at the 14th International Conference on AIDS and STLs in Africa (ICASA) Abuja 2005, “Sub-saharan Africa has just over 10% of the world’s population but is home to more than sixty percent of all people living with HIV or just more than 25 million people. In 2005, 3.2 million people were newly infected with HIV representing 64% of all new infections globally, while 2.4 million adults and children died of AIDS. It is estimated that approximately 12.3 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.”

Speaking at the workshop, Mr. Mike Ogbuehi of the Human Development Initiatives (HDI), who presented a paper on ‘Child trafficking, Child labour & HIVAIDS: The nexus’ said “the linkage between Child Trafficking , Child Labour and HIVAIDS is that the child victims of trafficking for the purpose of sex labour virtually have no ability to negotiate for safe sexual practices, because they are forced to have sex with multiple sex partners who may insist on unprotected sex.”

He added that “Child victims of trafficking who are made to do adult work are most vulnerable to the HIVAIDS infection. Children in labour who are not in school, are not exposed to formal HIVAIDS prevention programmes often targeted at schools. Thus their ability to avoid HIV infection is further reduced.”

Speaking further he noted that “trafficked children face unimaginable social seclusion in unfamiliar urban or rural areas, combined with lack of access to basic services in their new environment. Trafficking constitutes one of the most heinous treatment and worst forms of inhumanity to mankind.”

According to him, “trafficked victims encounter physical abuse and harmful attack which include beating, slapping, physical or weapon injuries and torture of different kinds. Sexual abuse as forced sex, rape, forced unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancy, forced abortion, inability to determine sex partners, among others.” Also “denial of sleep, food, medical services and other basic needs. Restriction on time and activities, loss of freedom of movement, and denial of victims’ control over disbursement of personal income.”

In conclusion, Mr. Ogbuehi noted that “it is imperative to introduce the campaign for the elimination of Child trafficking and Child labour into campaign efforts to address the HIVAIDS pandemic.”

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