Fellow: Esther Osunro
Grant Year: 2019
Location: Lagos State, Nigeria
Organization: The Cece Yara Foundation
Project title: Enactment and Implementation of a By-law to Eliminate Child Marriage
Project summary: The Cece Yara Foundation is working to address the alarming and increasing incidences of child abuse, rape, and maltreatment. One in four girls in Nigeria experience sexual violence (and one in ten boys) and it usually occurs in settings and by perpetrators that the child is familiar with (UNICEF). Child-centered institutions like schools are one of the most frequent places where child sexual abuse occurs. Between January to December 2018, incidents of child abuse were recorded in 19 schools in Lagos State. To complicate matters further, there is generally the additional problem of non-disclosure of abuse by victims in Nigeria. Children are not speaking out, seeking, or receiving services due to their fear of further harm from the perpetrator, being blamed, feelings of shame, and cultural inhibitions. The Cece Yara Foundation is advocating for the creation and enforcement of a management system that provides a safe environment for children, especially in child-centered institutions, to decrease the incidences of child abuse, rape, and maltreatment. They will advocate with the Lagos State Commissioner of Education to issue guidelines to fully implement the existing Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy— requiring that this policy be effectively implemented in all schools across Lagos State. In its first year, the Cece Yara Foundation will pilot this project in 50 model schools across Lagos State and facilitate the training of 50 teachers as child protection officers who will ensure the utilization of the implementation framework, directly benefitting 10,000 children. Once all schools in Lagos State utilize the implementation framework, over 1 million school children including 500,000 girls will be protected and have their rights safeguarded.