Child Abuse in Nigeria
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ALMAJIRI SYNDROME AS A FORM OF CHILD ABUSE
The issue of almajiraira has remained worrisome in the minds of northern elite. This is because the practice has been a source of ebarrassment to the region.
The word ALMAJIRI emanated from the Arabic word “AL- MUHAJIRIN”, the concept of Al-MUHAJIRUN came as a result of Prophet Muhammed’s migration from Mecca to Medina, meaning the emigrant. In Hausa land the term Almajiri could take any of the following forms any person irrespective of gender, who begs for assistance on the street or from house to house as a result of some deformity or disability; children between the ages of seven and fifteen who attend informal religious school who equally roam about with the purpose of getting assistance or aims; or even a child who engages in some form of labour to earn a living.
Almajiri syndrome can be said to be another form of child abuse, in the sense that children are exposed to laborious work at tender age, normally children between the ages of seven and twenty. Their mallams cannot feed nor provide the necessities of life for them therefore they embark on begging or laboured work in order to survive and gain.
The Almajiri syndrome or phenomenon is alarming because It takes a different dimension compared to the initial idea of Almajiri formation. Almajirai plural of almajiri are children that are sent to school for learning by parents, but instead of doing what they are expected to, they will be seen roaming the street beging and engaging in unnecessary activities in which they will eventually became a burden to the society due to lack of career guidance and counselling by teachers.
Such children (the Almajirai') are usually aggressive and violent as they are exposed to different forms of pressure, problems, hunger and jobs that demand several times their energy and weight before the job Is accomplished. Some of them do go to restaurants to wash plates, fetch water so that they will be given left over foods. They are all over the streets, very dirty, hungry thirsty, they lack all kinds of necessities of life and at times they cause traffic hazards.
Child labour is a fundamental factor of child abuse, these children who are laboured about in our communities are our children. They are the leaders of tommorrow as aged ones are dying up the younger ones replace them. They are our future hope and pillars, without which the future may look bleak in terms of development, because all these violent exhibiting children grow up to become criminals in the society within which they live, hence set back in the society because the increase in number of crime that is being attributed to increase of criminals in the society.
This issue of begging is more common in the northern part of Nigeria where the children are being denied their rights including the right to western education. As the case may be, these children turn out to be loosers in whatever perspective because some of them may not concentrate to learn even the spiritual knowledge they are sent for talkless of the western education. They are automatically denied.
Usually a child becomes an Almajiri when there is high striking poverty line in his family to take care of his essential needs such as sustenance. Some children are forced to become one simply when they lose their parents and when their relatives or guardians cannot keep them. Most of such children become victims when their parents send them to Quranic schools outside their hometowns.
A child is usually taken away from his parents, his relatives, and his home to some remote areas for the purpose of learning the recitation of holy Qur’an. At the end of the day the child will learn less If any about the. Qur'an recitation and more mischievous acts. This exercise is prevailing in the northern part of Nigeria as the Hausa/Fulani are predominantly Moslems and settlers of the north.
Social psychologists also noted that when a child is exposed to labour at a tender age and deprived with little or no benefit and entertainment, such child normally develops the habit of loneliness and thus lead to schizophrenia, therefore children’s right must be protected, preserved and maintained, similarly they should be given equal rights and priviledges as adults for a brighter future. The primary or basic children’s needs are right to education, health, entertainment, association, interaction, shelter and nutrition. Once these essential needs are provided, there is no doubt that they can perform wonderfully in their undertakings and can deliver as leaders of tomorrow.