United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged youths of Imo State to join hands with the state government and other agencies to end all forms of violence against children, women and the vulnerable.
The charge was given at the end of a two-day training organised by UNICEF for youths on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) at Ehime Mbano Council hall yesterday.
It was organised in corroboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the state’s Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Groups.
UNICEF Consultant for Imo and Ebonyi states, Benjamin Mbakwe, said the training was to equip the select youths with the right information on how to discourage, reduce and prohibit all forms of abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation and harmful cultural practices, including rape and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), in their communities and the state.
Mbakwe disclosed that six out of 10 Nigerian children experienced physical, sexual, mental, emotional or other forms of violence before their 18th birthday.
“Many of them suffer the effect of these violence all through their lives,” he stated.
NOA State Director, Vitus Ekeocha, enjoined the participants to be in the forefront of the campaign to protect children.
Said he: “Protecting the child is a collective responsibility, and every child deserves to be safe, protected and loved, simply by virtue of being a child.
“In every action concerning a child, whether undertaken by an individual, public or private body, institution or service, court of law or administrative or legislative authority, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.”
Also, Austin Okoro from the ministry said the state had enacted a couple of laws to mitigate all forms of violence against the vulnerable.
He added that the inability of most parents and guardians to report issues violence to the appropriate quarters “is a major factor inhibiting prosecution of perpetrators, to serve as a deterrent to others.”
Clifford Anumodu, Samson Atazie, Ezimakor Daniel, Uzosike Osinachi and other participants, who spoke to The Guardian at the event, expressed determination to the safety of the vulnerable groups.
At the end of the training, 52 youths drawn from several communities in the state were certified as UNICEF Advocates against Gender-Based Violence and on Child Protection in the state.