By Maxwell Effiong
June 16 every year is a day set aside to celebrate the African Child by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), to honor those that participated in the Soweto revolution in 1976, but was first marked in 1991.
Centre for Creative Art Education, a Non-Governmental Organisation and it’s partners joined the international community in marking this year’s day of African Child with the theme, “Let’s End Sexual And Gender-Based Violence” in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
In her opening speech, the founder of Centre for Creative Art Education, Mrs. Hilda Dokubo faulted classification based on sex and gender. She said, “when you begin to separate by sex and gender, you begin to create more problems.”
Mrs. Hilda Dokubo, who is also the founder of Orange Brigade, established to teach Nigerian children how to use drama, television and cinema to tell their story to the rest of the world emphasized that all hands must be in deck to uplift the African child.
“We are trying to teach them how to use drama, television and cinema to tell their story to the rest of the world, we have been doing this across the Niger Delta, to tell the ideal story of an ideal society, not a society where a young girl is abused or where a boy does not see the value to respect himself and the girl child.
“That is why we begin this inclusive process to include everyone and that is why we have people with physical disabilities, both boys and girls. Bringing all of them together is ideal to have the kind of a society we want.”
Assistant Director, Ministry of Social Welfare, Mrs. Komomo Obeten spoke extensively of how the Ministry has not been financially buoyant but has been trying from it’s widow’s might.
“I have observed keenly that we are now having people who will support us fight child abuse which is common everywhere. Children are abused everyday because of lack of awareness and sensitization of how to speak out.”
She added that, “children are going through trauma but they don’t know how to speak it out. So, therefore, it gladdens my heart to see people that come to support the Social Welfare to fight against these abuses.”
Relatively, a facilitator from the Girls Power Initiative (GPI), Mrs. Ene Okoho spoke on the topic, “Identifying Abusive Situation, Environment And Persons”, told the participants to always pay attention to happenings around them.
She also explained that the perpetrators of sexual abusive could be found any were, hence, the need for the children to be aware of their environment.
In addition to warning that one should be properly dressed to avoid temptation, she said other things that could lead to child abuse include keeping late nights, taking shortcuts and escorting friends to unfamiliar places.
Speaking to CrossRiverWatch some participants, Abba Abumbe of Government Secondary School Akim, Qua Town, said he learnt that “we should respect our parents and also stay at home so that we would not walk in to danger.”
Relatively, Gospel Ajom of Margrate Ekpo International Secondary School said, “Why I am here is to acquire knowledge. So far, I have learnt different types of sexual abuse cases and their remedies including physical and emotional trauma of sexual abuse. I appreciate them for their work and if they keep doing this it might promote development and protect the society.”
The event held at the Calabar office of Girls Power Initiative (GPI).
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