To mark the first anniversary of the UN World Day for the protection of the girl child, Oluremi Tinubu, the First Lady, joined her counterparts from Sierra Leone and Angola, Dr. Fatima Bio and Dr. Anas Lorenco, in a commemorative event held at Winners Chapel International in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The focus of the celebration was on the prevention and healing from child sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence.
In her remarks, Oluremi Tinubu emphasized that the soul of a nation can be measured by how it treats its children. She stressed the importance of dedicating a day to address the menace of abuse, highlighting the profound impact it has on the girl child. Tinubu called upon all nations to take collective responsibility in creating safe, nurturing environments free from harm for every child. She also emphasized the need for healing and support for survivors, acknowledging the deep scars left by abuse, while also emphasizing the resilience, hope, courage, and triumph displayed by survivors.
Dr. Anas Lorenco, in her address, called for unity among African nations in giving survivors a voice and a fresh start in life. She expressed solidarity with survivors, acknowledging that their stories are shared experiences that require attention and action.
Justice Desmond Babatunde, the Chief Judge of Sierra Leone, assured the attendees that the judiciary would ensure that perpetrators of abuse are brought to justice, emphasizing that healing cannot be achieved without justice.
During the event, testimonies were shared by survivors, and the first ladies of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Angola presented scholarships to 130 survivors. The scholarships, valued at Le100,000,000 (N4 million) each, cover university education, vocational training, start-up business capital, and other categories.
Statistics reveal that one in every four girls and one in every nine boys have experienced sexual exploitation, abuse, or violation. The World Day for the prevention of, and healing from child sex exploitation, abuse, and violence was declared by the United Nations on November 18 last year. The day, initiated by Sierra Leone and co-sponsored by Nigeria in 2021, has effectively raised awareness and promoted action to eliminate this social menace.
The event included healing prayers led by various church leaders, including the National Resident Pastor of the host church, Moses Olasunkanmi, and Catholic Archbishop Charles Tamba. Additionally, Nigerian gospel music superstar, Osinachi Kalu, popularly known as Sinach, delivered outstanding performances to commemorate the day.