By Alexander Adejoh
Sequel to a publication in Fides Newspaper on the plight of a child hawker who stayed late into the night because he was instructed by his aunt never to return home till he finished selling the oranges, Fides encountered a young girl selling fish, Friday, January 24, at about 10:30 am around Ukwu-Orji, Awka South.
Speaking to Fides, the abused child Mmesoma Emeka, told Fides that she was a JSS 2 student of Community Secondary School, Umuokpu, and that she was an orphan staying with her aunt.
She revealed that she always went to school late because she had to help her aunt to fetch water, clean the house, and prepare her children for school before going to school.
‘I was nick-named Mme, the perpetual late comer, in school and I receive serious purnishment from the prefects and school sergent almost on a daily basis, but nobody knows what I am going through,’ she said.
According to her, she woke up before 4am everyday to do house chores but ended up coming to school around 9am or later.
‘I was even asked to go back home once for coming late to school but I couldn’t, for fear of being punished at home by my aunt,’ she told Fides.
She also stated that Fridays were school free days for her as her aunt was currently running a part-time programme at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. As such, she said, she had to hawk every Friday; while hawking after school hours on other days.
When asked if she would want Fides to talk to her aunt about her situation, she pleaded against it, saying her aunt would kill her, especially if she thought she had reported her to the press.
For her part, Miss Elohor Peculair Ejimevwo, a human rights activist, told Fides that Every Child had rights and privileges. Noting that in developed countries, child abuse was a serious crime, she frowned at what he called government’s icy attitude towards the crime.
‘I am still wondering why a woman would treat people’s children as debris, forgetting that someday she would die as well, and her children would be at the mercy of another woman.
‘We must learn to tell ourselves the truth, if our children were treated like we treat others would they survive the pain and torture? People must learn to treat others they way the would want to be treated.
Miss Elohor encouraged the general public to report every act of child abuse at the nearest police station, even as she appreciated Fides for speaking for the voiceless in society.