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Child Servitude

Child Labour 1

It is a common sight today in Nigeria and mostly other part of Africa to see children of ages 5 - 17 going through one form of abuse or the other. I grew up to believe that parents are suppose to cater to the needs of their children. In Nigeria today, female child labour is the order of the day and if you try to intervene in any way, you will be lucky to go unharmed, if the madam of the house (in most situations where the child is not related to her) or the mother, doesn't break your head with a stone or chopping stick. What is happening is a clear abuse of a child's right, yet no one seems to care. I have pondered upon this situation time and again, and yet can't understand why it's happening. Many claim it's caused by poverty, but what about situations where the adults are wealthy folks and can afford to send these girls to school. Is it that these supposed mothers (because in Africa all older women of child bearing age are viewed as one) are loosing their motherly reputation of love, protection and fairness in which mothers are known for? Or is it that the see nothing wrong with such practise? These kids work round the clock and most of them that are not related to their mistresses are hardly allowed to go to school. So they miss out on what other kids are enjoying, a basic necessity like education. I saw a 7year old boy carrying a 30litres gallon filled with water on his head, and this is a common sight. I couldn't help but weap inside. Have seen a 5year old girl mopping the floor, a 12 year old washing all the dirty clothes in the house. What breaks my heart the most is the fact that with all these work and inhuman treatment these children are subjected to, they never get a simple commendation. Rather, the commendation they receive are slaps, starvation, denial of basic education, being called names like witches (since they're mostly females) sexual abuse by the husband of their mistress and other ill treatment. They're abandoned by their poor relatives, based on promises these mistresses make when trying to get the child. Most of them even die as a result, as they're turned into asses that work the mill day-in-day-out. Others hawk vegetables, fruits, sealed water in sachets and snacks on the streets. They're not expected to return home till they sell the whole stuck. They're abused, knocked down and killed by careless drivers; since some hardly know how to cross the street. Most of 'em join bad gangs (for the males) and for the girls the start prostitution in an attempt to cater to their needs. The disturbing thing is that this is trending right now and not even the government is capable of stopping it. Though Nigeria's Child Right Act is part of child labour Act, this is just like any other law, not enforced. These kids end up becoming a nuisance to the society and the funny thing is that it is the same society that created them that are complaining. They become the bread winners for their parents and since they are not equipped to handle the challenges that come with it, they fall prey to many vices. A situation where most of the girls get pregnant, they are immediately returned to their owners. This is not a hidden thing, as merely walking the streets on Nigeria will prove it true. This is just the tip of a sad tale of what children (maily females) are going through in Nigeria. We need the intervention of the international community to stop this madness, and help enlighten adults on the ills of such practices.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Child labour 2



jap21's picture

Hi Elijah

I have learned that this things cannot be changed by someone else, they need to be changed by ourselves. The international community wil never understand how much suffering you are going through, until you can start doing something about it. When you begin, it is much easier that the international community finds a way to help.

What can you do? First of all, it is urgent that you develop a network in facebook. I have found out that facebook can be a great tool for change, but it first needs to be developed. Look around facebook pages and see if they developed, if you have groups and pages and how many people are involved. If you already have nets with at least 10.000 people in them, you are fine and you can begin working. Otherwise you will need to begin working the networks so that you can build and help build pages and groups with enough people to matter.

Thank you for this article. It really opens our eyes to begin working.



Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

Mila's picture

Thank you Elijah

Hi Elijah,

Thank you for writing and being a part of the WorldPulse community. I am so sorry to hear about the challenges that people in Nigeria are facing, especially the women and children. Do you think it has gotten worse over time? Have you or your loved ones been personally affected by it? How do you suggest the international community could help? Please know that you are in the thoughts and hearts of all of us here on WorldPulse and we want to help. Are there ways that the people of Nigeria can help too?

All the best to you and keep writing! :)

elijah_ekanem's picture

Child Servitude

Thanks dear. But the truth is that no one here is willing to make a change. Have thought about how to start a campaign to create awareness and sensitize people concerning this challenge. Social media will make a good start and then I can collaborate with NGOs here. From there, I feel we can make a change. My sister was a victim of this abuse. And yes, it has really gotten worse over time. I feel the international community can help by coming in through intertional organisations. Like they did with oil spills in Nigeria. So I suggest UNISCO, UNICEF etc can use their Nigeria offices to put a ban on it, and make sure those found guilty serve jail terms or punished.

Hannah Cynthia's picture


Thank you for writing this. It is thoughtful, informative and filled with emotion. Your critique is powerful because of your experience and connection to the people and culture, but it is written with compassion and genuine concern. Rich and contemplative thoughts are important for any change or social movement. Continue to write, read, and explore your thoughts and reflections on this subject. It is valuable and eye-opening to read!


elijah_ekanem's picture

A big thank you, Cynthia.

A big thanks to you, Cynthia. I will do my best to do as you say. Your words are encouraging, and I also hope to learn from you. I love philosophy too, but I didn't major in it. As you rightly put it; Rich and contemplative thoughts are important for any change or social movement. I believe soon, such practices will be a thing of the past as we work toward a common goal. Hope to hear from you again, bye.

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