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A Better draft. Please Comment

Hi, here is a much better draft of the one I finally chose. Please comment.

Stop Slavery! Save the Children!
I believe the children are the future. Whether they are so poor that they starve or so rich they lack nothing. They are the future. They must all be protected if the future is to be better than today, or if there is to be a future at all.
The future does not belong to only the financially privileged children. It belongs to all children. In Nigeria an estimated 15 million children under the age of 14 are working across the country. according to Unicef May 2005
These children work in various capacities where they are exposed to situations that they are not equipped to handle at their tender ages. Many of such children work as “house helps” in homes across the country. From this point, I choose not to refer to such children as house helps but child slaves. This is what they really are.
The unfortunate truth is that many of these children are employed to help give the children of the privileged a more comfortable life. Is it fair to deprive one child of her childhood in order to make that of another more comfortable?
The children are taken from their parents, often as young as nine by a Madam or Mister. Basically a business person who pays the parents an agreed sum to take the children away for servitude in the major Nigerian cities often thousands of miles away from the children’s homes. Their parents have no idea where exactly they are. The children cannot go back home even if they want to. They are alone. Alone in a strange land, in a strange family working from dusk to dawn. Cooking, cleaning, pounding and after a full days labour often sleeping on the cold hard floor. They are slaves, exiled from their homes with no way back, bound to the whims and caprices of their masters and mistresses. If they refuse to obey either willfully or because their frail shoulders are weary, too tired to carry the burden of yet another task, they are beaten, whipped, or starved.
In spite of legislations such as the 2006 ammendment of the 'Act establishing the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters' which stated that Nigerians who employ and keep children under the age of 18 years as domestic servants will now spend five years behind the bars if caught and prosecuted, this worrisome trend continues largely unabated. This law makes it illegal for children to work in domestic capacity in the homes of non family members. So far only 16 states have adopted this law out of the 36 states. Tragically, even where the law has been adopted, citizens are largely unaware that such a law exists. There are no measures in place to ensure compliance with the laws. In fact the slavery continues as though there were no laws at all.
The Child Slavery market is lucrative for all involved, except the child. The child merchants are paid hundreds of thousands in naira per annum for the child. They give a small percentage to the child’s parents. As for the family into which the child is sold, they get cheap subservient labour.
In few households, these children are actually treated like human beings and even sent to school. In such families, it is as though the children have been adopted. They perform domestic tasks but are treated with dignity and consideration. Such households are exceptions to the rule.
The Yorubas say it is the egg that becomes a Cock. Yet the nature of the egg is fragile, vulnerable and can be easily broken. It is the same with children. They are the egg, the cock is the future of humanity. In a hundred years all people called adults today will be dead or dying. It is the children of today that will be the future. We must protect them, we must not bask in the false security of yard full of cocks and mash eggs under our feet.

The laws in place already must be implemented. The government must see this as a primary responsibility. Parameters must be put in place to arrest and punish to serve as a deterrent for others. The issue of poverty must be addressed, it is often the reason why parents send their children into servitude in the first place.

It is an economic law that where there is no demand there will eventually be no supply. We Nigerians must stop employing children to be slaves in our households. It is criminal and cruel to deprive these children of their childhood. Stop slavery, save the children, save the future.

Comments

Jennifer Ruwart's picture

Strong op-ed

This is a strong op-ed. Your analogy of the egg was poignant.

Children should not be treated as labor, period. They should laugh, play make believe, and run around like "mad villains" as I like to say to Jonah. I hope you are also able to submit your op-ed to a local newspaper and other forums to help raise awareness about the new legislation.

Great job.

Jennifer Ruwart
Chief Collaborator
JR Collaborations

olakitike's picture

I Agree

I quite agree with you Jennifer.That period should not be stolen from ANY child! I will also submit this to a local newspaper. Thank you for commenting

Gemma's picture

The Children are our future

This is a great piece. An op-ed is an argument that you are making with some evidence to back up your position. You have done a great job of presenting the situation and outlining its impact on children. Do you have any statistics about the number of children currently suffering this plight?

I like the reference to the legislation. This is important to show that the government has at least acknowledged the issue. You present the statement that there is no enforcement of the law however, and that there are still states that have not adopted it. A call to further adoption and enforcement as a part of your argument to solve this problem is excellent. How will that happen? What can the reader do to bring that about? Think about that in the context of your closing paragraph.

One other question I have is who is the child merchant? How do they work into the equation? Is that a place to focus in order to create more enforcement of the law? I am curious how these individuals get away with this activity. Also, you mention that poverty must be eliminated. This is true. Does education and public outreach play a role here?

Overall this is an excellent piece. It breaks my heart to think of young children in this situation. Many Americans are aware of child labor problems in the context of children in factories, but less aware of this situation where children are enslaved as domestic help for the wealthy. The word should be spread about his horror.

I will check in again later today for follow-up. You are an excellent writer! Gemma

olakitike's picture

Thanks Gemma

Thanks a lot. Especially for the questions and compliments. I have been reworking the draft. I will rework it again with the questions in mind. I hope to post the final draft this evening. THANK YOU for the help. i couldn't have done this without your efforts.

malayapinas's picture

Hi! I like your line" The

Hi! I like your line" The future does not belong to only financially privilege children. The future belong to all children." It's sad that poor children of the world works hard at a very young age and looks no future at all, But, I still believe and hope that the future still belongs to them We have to ensure that we will give them a bright future by sharing ourselves in shaping a better world in our very simple ways of changing our society.

Great work! Give my hugs to the children.

love,
malaya

olakitike's picture

I will hug them!

I will hug them for you. Thanks for the comment!

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