#JusticeForJibril: Nigeria needs more than policies to protect the rights of children

Child abuse

Violence against children occurs in homes, families, schools, communities, and places where children should feel safe. Child abuse in all its forms is a daily reality for many Nigerian children and only a fraction ever receive help. On Twitter this Tuesday morning, Nigerians are drawing attention to the viral story of Jibril Aliyu, a child from Kebbi who is a victim of years of abuse in the hands of his father and his two wives.

We gathered that Jibril was chained with animals for two years by his step-mothers. Having lost his mother two years ago, the sole responsibility for his care rested on his father and his other two wives. For unclear reasons, the trio chose to subject Jubril to live like an animal. The case with Jibril was so pervasive that it has affected his sense of reasoning.

Luckily, he was rescued by some undisclosed human rights activist group. On Twitter, this story was made available by Manir Jega who also shared his disgust on the state Jibril was found. His thread opened conversations on social media on how child abuse has thrived in Nigeria over the years, and it’s time the government puts more solid policies that protects children from abuse, especially in poor communities.

It is also important to note that the catalyst of violence against children (VAC) is rooted in some social norms, including around the use of violent discipline and community beliefs about witchcraft, all of which increase children’s vulnerability. Just a few days ago, it was Kaosara who was rejected by her family for her blue eyes.

Child abuse has always thrived in Nigeria in the guise of discipline and upbringing. Every parent has a style of parenting and every culture also tends to provide a standard that is considered normal and most appropriate in bringing up a child. While discipline is a very important tool in bringing up a child, the extremity of it is nothing short of domestic violence and abuse.

Asides from the 2003 Child Rights Act in Nigeria which expands the human rights bestowed to citizens in Nigeria’s 1999 constitution to children, other things need to be set in place to control these inevitable vices. There should be strengthened legislative and institutional frameworks to protect children vulnerable and exposed to violence, abuse, and exploitation.

For Jibril Aliyu, it is unclear if discipline was the reason he was being subjected to that level of cruelty, but this news has surely questioned and challenged certain standards in Nigeria. Many are calling that the step-mothers and the father be brought to the full effect of the law as they are also calling for help as Jibril will be needing it.

In a video that showed the step-mothers in police custody, one of the women trivialized their actions by saying (in Hausa) that they made sure they feed Jibril even though he was in the chain for two years. They also shared that Jibril had some mental issues, explaining that they have taken him to a hospital a few times. According to her, Jibril’s mental problems are the major reason he was put in chains.

If we have been negligent in our fight to protect children, the story of Jubril is calling on us to do better now. To stop the victimization of innocent children in Nigeria, groups and all stakeholders involved must create campaigns to sensitize Nigerian parents, particularly those in the rural communities on the need to see how their actions would affect a child in the long run.

 

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