Child marriage: UNICEF solicits trado-religious leaders’ support to end practice

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has called on religious and traditional leaders in Kaduna state to support the campaign against child marriage and other violence against children.

UNICEF’s child protection specialist, Mr. Dennis Onoise, made the call Tuesday in Zaria during the first phase of a two-day workshop on the impact of Violence Against Children (VAC).

 He said traditional and religious leaders had “a tremendous role to play to reduce child marriage; a development which is a prevalent in northern part of Nigeria.”

Onoise said the role of traditional and religious leaders could not be over emphasised as they “hold a highly respected position in the society.”

“We believe that traditional leaders they can change the negative social norms practiced by their subjects. Child marriage as one of the factors responsible for girls less than 18 years suffering from Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF),” he said.

According to him, the girl-child may be seen as physically developed, but lack the mental and psychological maturity and as such cannot act or take a decision like an adult.

 Also speaking, the state director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Zubair Galadima-Soba, expressed the UN agency’s towards building a violence-free society and one conducive for the children.

He said it was the responsibility of parents, religious leaders, traditional leaders and other stakeholders to ensure that “children grow up and become good leaders.”

 “We should be child protection ambassadors and make sure there is no violence against children again,” he said.

Blueprint reports that participants were drawn from the from six local government areas of the state.

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