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Nigeria’s Kano State Needs Child Protection Law

Rights Organizations Demand Action

Women and girls arrive to make traditional Friday prayers at a mosque in Kano, northern Nigeria on February 15, 2019. © 2019 AP Photo/Cara Anna

Last week, the Federation of Women Lawyers Kano (FIDA KANO) led a peaceful demonstration through the streets of Kano City, demanding that the long-delayed Child Protection Bill finally becomes law in Kano state.

The federal Child Rights Act (which the draft Child Protection Bill is derived from) was passed by Nigeria’s federal parliament in 2003, but has yet to be adopted by Kano State, one of Nigeria’s biggest northern states.

FIDA Kano partnered with several nongovernmental organizations, including Nigerian Association of Women Journalists and Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, to demand justice against various child rights abuses that have taken place in Kano state.

These fresh demands for the bill come in the wake of a grisly killing of a five-year-old girl, Hanifa Abubakar in December. Three people have been arrested by Kano police and are awaiting trial. 

Children in Kano state are at risk of many child rights abuses, including widespread child marriage and sexual violence, including at school. In a recent report on child marriage, Human Rights Watch found that Kano state lacks important safeguards to protect children who are married off as young as 10 years old, denied access to education, and forced to have sex and bear children with the men who marry them.

Human Rights Watch has joined these organizations and others in calling for Kano’s state parliament, the House of Assemblies, to urgently adopt the Child Rights Act to bring the state in line with Nigeria’s human rights commitments, including the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Adopting the Child Rights Act would increase protection for children against rights violations, such as child marriage, and ensure that victims of crimes are provided with adequate legal redress through the court system.

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