iMarch4Children… Breaking the culture of silence

To mark National Children’s Day, thousands of people from all over Nigeria will march to shine a spotlight on the plight of the millions of children who suffer violence every year in Nigeria, calling on communities to break the culture of silence.

The Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey (carried out by the National Population Commission, with the support of UNICEF and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), launched by Government of Nigeria in September 2015, highlighted the prevalence of sexual, physical, and emotional violence suffered by children in Nigeria. The survey estimates that half of all children in Nigeria experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence before they reach the age of 18 years.

The majority of children never tell anyone what has happened to them. Less than 4% get the help they need to recover.

“This culture of silence must be broken”, said Oluwadamilola Apotieri-Abdulai, Convener of the iMarch4Children and Executive Director of Playback Nigeria. “At the launch of the Presidential Year of Action to End Violence Against Children on 15th September 2015, His Excellency President Buhari called upon every Nigerian to play their part to END VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN in Nigeria. #iMarch4Children is our response to raise social awareness of this acute problem facing millions of children and to mobilize communities to take action”.

Playback Nigeria, with the support of UNICEF, has partnered with Civil Society Organizations across 12 Nigeria states and the FCT to march for children.

The #iMarch4Children art-based project will take place in Lagos, Kaduna, Gombe, Cross River, Plateau, Ebonyi, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Delta, Rivers State, Kebbi State and Abuja on the 27th of May 2016 by 8am, bringing together children and young people of different age groups and backgrounds, religious and cultural leaders, the general public, celebrities and public figures who have been identified as #iMarch4Children Ambassadors.

All participants will dress in a way that depicts the impact of violence against children, in order to shed a light on the silent suffering of millions of Nigerian children. A communique would be delivered to the Government in each state and at the Federal level on behalf of the CSOs after which a Die-In activity would be conducted, a process which will involve participants lay on their back to reflect on millions of children that have died as a result of violence against children. A daily tweet-meet has been launched on social media with different stakeholders tweeting on issues related to VAC on the official social media platform for the march and campaign @iMarch4Children and @end_vac.

“No one Ministry or Organization can effectively address violence against children alone”, said Jean Gough, Representative UNICEF Nigeria, “Violence against children can only be ended through a united and concerted effort by Government, CSOs, religious and traditional leaders, the media, communities and families”.

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