Street hawking is the commonest form of child labour practices in Nigeria. It has huge implications on children’s physical and emotional well-being. Children who hawk in the street are exposed to social vices such as drugs and alcohol abuse, smoking, sexual abuse and so many others.
The Nigeria Child Rights Act provides that children should be protected from child trafficking and street hawking, yet, children are being trafficked and pushed into the street as merchants.
Researchers have revealed that many parents in Africa withdraw their children from school and send them out to hawk commodities in order to make money for the family’s upkeep. These children are vulnerable and naive; they are exposed to dangers, accidents, prostitution, kidnapping, malnourishment, cultism and others. You see these children in the street and in traffic running after moving vehicles to sell their commodity.
In 2008, the Lagos state government banned street hawking during school hours to reduce the practice and also reduce the number of out of school children. Addressing child street hawking has to be on every government’s agenda. It has to be given priority and banned in every state. Hawking can jeopardise the future of a child.
Recently, street hawking has been on the rise because of the economic situation of the country. The prices of commodities have doubled; some parents can no longer cater for their children. Therefore, they send these minors to the street to hawk to make ends meet. Some of the children are separated from their parents in the village with the hope to give them a brighter and fulfilling future in the city.
In the North, hawking is on the rise in a disgusting way. The children especially girls are the providers of the family, whatever they make is what will be used as family upkeep. Most of the parents or guardians of these children are ignorant of the dangers of street hawking, their children can fall victim of anti social activities thereby, destroying their future.
Children are gifts from God; they should be loved, cared and provided for. It is the responsibility of the parents to provide all the basic necessities of every child and not the child providing. In a situation whereby a child is staying with a guardian who can be his or her aunt or uncle or even a relative, the child can be beaten up if he or she comes back home without selling the commodity or making profit. The child can also be given difficult house chores to do or not given food to eat as punishment for not selling the goods, which are all forms of child abuse.
The federal government should ban street hawking in the country. Parents or guardians who infringe this law or rule should be penalised.
Department of Mass Communication,
University of Maiduguri