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UNICEF celebrates Children's Day in Nigeria

Organisation fears that economic meltdown may aggravate violence and sexual exploitation of children

ABUJA, 27 May 2009—As Nigeria marks Children’s Day today under the theme “Expose violence and sexual exploitation of children: uphold the rights of the child”, UNICEF calls for vigilance and urgent action to stem child abuse and protect children’s rights.

Violence and sexual exploitation—which include rape, child prostitution, child trafficking, child pornography, genital cutting, child betrothal and early marriage—are some of the worst forms of denial of children’s rights.

“Child victims of violence and sexual exploitation are traumatized and may grow up to be dysfunctional adults. It is an avoidable tragedy for these young people, and a waste of the human potential that Nigeria needs to accomplish its Vision 2020”, said Dr. Suomi Sakai, UNICEF Representative.

Although the main causes of child mistreatment include harmful traditional practices and beliefs as well as family breakdown (too often caused by the death of one or both parents), economic factors and poverty have a strong effect. This suggests that the global economic meltdown may aggravate the incidence of violence and sexual exploitation of children.

Although the Child Rights Act specifies that children should not work full time until they are 18 years old, some 15 million children below the age of 14 are working across Nigeria in exploitative conditions. Children are also especially vulnerable in Nigeria because the country is a source, transit point and destination for child trafficking.

UNICEF commends governments at the national and state levels for their efforts to reduce the incidence of violence and exploitation of children: child’s rights laws have been passed in 22 out of the 36 states, and urges the remaining 14 to do so. Nigeria ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 and domesticated it in 2003 as the Child’s Rights Act and the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act.

UNICEF is currently supporting government initiatives to improve justice and law-enforcement processes so that they are able to respond to crimes against children and meet the special needs of child victims and offenders.

For further information, contact:
• Paula Fedeski, Communication specialist, at +234 803-402-0879 or
• Geoffrey Njoku, Communication specialist, at + 234 803-525-0288 or



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