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Dad had 7 wives, 49 kids and did not provide for us -Child labour survivor

Driven by necessity and desperation as well as ignorance, many families have turned to child labour.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics and the Nigeria Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey’s report, there are estimated 8.7 million child labourers in Nigeria.

The International Labour Organisation also reports that 160 million children aged five to seven, worldwide, are in child labour and about 79 million perform hazardous works that place their mental health, emotional health, safety and development at risk.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) spoke with some people who suffered but survived child labour.

Rose, an indigene of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, shared her experience as a survivor of child labour.

“I am from a polygamous home. My father had seven wives and 49 children, with little resources to take care of us and no luxury of love and affection.

“At a very young age, we were sent to live with relatives we believed had the resources to give us a better future.

My father had 7 wives and 49 children, with little resources to take care of us. At a very young age, we were sent to live with relatives we believed could give us a better future

“My mother sent me to Warri [Delta State] to live with her elder sister who l regarded as my grandma, but she later sent me to Benin [Edo State] to live with my old cousin at age six.

“This was where my woes of child abuse and child labour began. At that young age, l must wake up as early as 4.30 a. m. I was saddled with the responsibility of house chores, taking care of her two kids, and her dogs before going late to school, ” she said.

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Rose is today the founder of ‘Real Life Issues with Rosey’, an initiative borne out of childhood experiences, especially child labour/abuse.

She narrated that she experienced several forms of physical abuse. “There was no day l did not have scars on my body, and l usually cried until I slept. I was called unprintable names, my results from school were seized and I was made to believe l could not amount to anything in life.

“I later summoned courage and moved out of my cousin’s house and came to Lagos with my grandmother’s son,” she narrated.

l lived with family friends who pretended to help while I was working for them, but I experienced sexual harassment on different occasions

Rose later got admission into the University of Lagos to study Public Administration. She regretted that due to the trauma she experienced as a victim of child labour/abuse, she lacked self confidence, and has low self esteem.

According to her, child abuse leads to anger and frustration. “You feel everybody does not like you, which makes you angry, leading to violence and defending yourself against nothing. It leaves one broken, not believing in oneself.

“In the university, l struggled with low self esteem, felt intimidated, and was not bold enough to mingle or relate with my mates.”

She advised parents to take good care of their children and avoid giving them out to relatives or others. She urged that if any parent must send their children to live with relatives or strangers, they must ensure regular communication with the children for effective monitoring.

Rose also urged governments to strengthen child labour laws, increase enforcement, and hold perpetrators accountable.

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She advised victims of child labour and child abuse to speak up.

On her part, Miss Yetunde Ojelade, an indigene of Ogun State, described her child labour experience as ‘terrible.’

“My mother gave birth to two girls, but due to irreconcilable differences with her partner, he chased us out. At my young age, l lived with family friends who pretended to help while I was working for them, but I experienced sexual harassment on different occasions, ” she said.

She told NAN that later, God helped her to connect with another family where she stayed afterwards.

“It has been bliss for the past seven years that l have been with this family as they see me as one of them,” she said.

Yetunde advised victims of child labour to speak up, adding that they should seek help and be hopeful of a better future.

Also speaking with NAN, Mr. Andrew Adaji, Group Project Manager of Devatop Centre for Africa Development, an anti-human trafficking and human rights organisation, urged governments to strengthen enforcement of laws and implementation of policies protecting children against exploitation.

He also called on governments, organisations and individuals to intensify efforts in ending child labour and ensuring children’s rights to education, health and a safe environment.

“The should ensure children’s rights are protected and provide access to quality education, vocational training, and empower children to develop skills and pursue their passions,” he urged. (NAN)

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