The plights of house-helps in Nigeria

Girl Child Rights have hitherto been ignored across the country; and rapid population growth characterized by poverty and food insecurity has resulted in demand continuous for child labour to enhance agricultural productivity and fortify domestic services.
The Rights of most Nigeria Children are far from being respected despite the country’s signing to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1999 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child that Nigeria signed in 2001.
As confirmed by UNICEF, trafficking of girl children for the purpose of domestic service, prostitution and other forms of exploitative labour remains a widespread phenomenon in Nigeria. In Nigeria, hapless young women and girls in the age bracket of 10-21 years have fallen victims of human trafficking as they are deceptively procured by some barons through their Nigerian agents who traffic them to different countries abroad where they suffer sexual exploitation, emotional distress, disorientation, depression and sometimes death.
Despite the fact that the Child Rights Acts was specific on rape and other forms of abuses directed at girl children, cases of sexual harassment against girls as domestic servants remain rampant in Nigeria.
Instead of moral support, proper up-binging, good education and respect for Child Rights, thousands of girl children are enslaved by parents or guardians to engage as domestic workers or forced to early marriage across the country, primarily to mitigate socio-economic challenges facing their families as against AU Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which promotes right to live and personal integrity; Section 33 and 35 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria which promotes rights to live and personal liberty respectively; and 2003 International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on Child Rights. 
Poverty, high level of illiteracy, existing socio-cultural resistance, inadequate awareness, have threatened efforts to address challenges facing girl child in the country. Consequently, girls are paid maximum of N10, 000 monthly for domestic services. This is not isolated from unwarranted utilisation and abuses through frequent beating and rapping by their employers.
Experiences have revealed that many households in Nigeria are incapable of caring for another man’s child; employ the services of house-helps who they (employers) subject to horrible experiences.  
There have several reported cases of dehumanisation, abuse, rapping and violation launched by employers against their house-helps across the country. These include infliction of injurious scars in their body; over-utilisation through restless and long working hours; regular panicking arising from frantic state of mind; and sometimes, death.
It is time to demand for full implementation by all levels of governments, various regulations/laws backing child rights including access to education, to encourage and re-install personal liberty and dignity of girl child. There is need for concerted efforts by all level of governments, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), civil society, Community Base Organisations, Faith Base Organisations to effectively combat human trafficking scourge and abuses against girl child.
Strengthening Nigeria’s criminal justice system to checkmate abuses and violation against girl child has become imperative.  Creation of massive employment opportunities and workable poverty alleviation structures across the country will help to avert girl child labour and early marriage for a living.
All level of governments should improve access to education and eliminating gender gaps in education, proper individual orientation, mass public awareness and sensitization on the provisions of the Child Right Act. Also it is important to institute effective rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration programmes through medical, psychological and legal services for the victims of child labour, sexual abuse and human trafficking.
By Tola Ojo
Wuye, Abuja.
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