Street Hawking: Oppressing the Girl Child or Family Economic Supplement?

Article excerpt

Street hawking in its simplest form is the selling of things along the roads and from one place to the other. In Nigeria this is done almost all the time by young children both males and females. The girl hawkers come to the cities in groups and then go in different directions of the city to hawk their goods. They remain in the city from the early morning to late in the evening when they take buses back to their respective villages after the days sales. This article describes the dangers and problems associated with street hawking.

A World View of the Situation of the Girl-Child

There are sixty-five (65) million girls around the world that are not going to school, and more will only complete a few years of schooling. Majority of them are engaged in the world's third most profitable trade Girl trafficking (after arms and drugs) for various reasons. Some of them are trafficked for the purpose of prostitution, some for child labour (Umar, 2003). For example, between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked every year across the boarders to India. Most end up as sex hawkers in brothels in Bombay and New Delhi. An estimated 200,000 Nepalese women, most of them girls under 18 are sex hawkers in Indian cities.

Girls as young as 13 (mainly from Asia and Eastern Europe) are trafficked as sex workers. These girls are in most cases powerless, isolated and at great risk of violence and infections. A recent UNICEF survey of household in 25 sub-Saharan African countries indicated that thirty-one percent (31%) of children aged between five (5) and four (4) are engaged in the various forms of child labour such as slavery, trafficking and forced recruitment for armed conflicts, prostitution and phonography and other hazardous works that stretch to 43 hours a week in labour that threaten the young girls being.

In another UNICEF study, 246 million children are found to be engaged in child labour. In essence, 1 in every 6 children around the world is forced into child labour. The figure is broken down as follows:

Years                Percentage

5-14 years old      49% of girls
14-18 years         42% of girl

Ninety percent of the large numbers of children are being trafficked in west and central Africa for domestic work and sexual exploitation, to work in shops or farms, or to be employed as street hawkers. In Latin America, child servants are hired to work as domestic servants and also to satisfy the sexual needs of the employer's or their sons. In Peru, another study showed that 60% of men who grew up with a female domestic servant had their first sexual experience with that servant.

Undoubtedly, this situation is the same in Nigeria. We have had loud outcries for the elimination of child trafficking and abuse by governments, non-governmental organisations and individuals. But it is a far cry as it is, an immediate cry that should have been of immediate concern to us is the incessant problem of street hawking by very young girls (more often than not under-aged).

The Girl Child

Now we explore the world of the Girl-Child. Who is she? The Gift Child is normally a young lady in her adolescence. The adolescent age is generally regarded as the most turbulent of human development because it is characterized by physiological and psychological changes. During this period, the Gift Child is often in a dilemma of how to meet societal expectations. Because of the transitional nature of the period from childhood to adulthood, the girl child is sometimes rebuked for behaving like child, and at other times chided for behaving like adults (Umar, 2003).

Akinboye sees adolescence as a period of accelerated growth. This period is heightened by social awareness, and a period when the youngster reaches a maturational stage of primary and secondary sex development that enables her to reproduce her kind. This is a period of storm and stress. It is a period of high emotionality. …