THE AFRICAN CULTURE: STREET HAWKING-ITS EFFECTS ON CHILDREN AND THE GIRL CHILD
It is illegal for children to hawk wares on the street in developed countries but In majority of developing countries like Nigeria, street hawking has become a culture and most of these street vendors are children. Unemployment and poverty level is so high so in a bid to make ends meet parents and guardians send their children and wards to hawk so as to supplement the family income for their upkeep, the number of children hawking on the streets are increasing everyday in developing countries due to poverty, there might be little economic benefit for this but it also exposes these children to dangers of all sorts.
Basically most parents in Africa have this believe that children are God sent helpers for economic purposes and otherwise, this is the reason why a typical African would bear as many children as possible even into old age and probably doesn’t see anything wrong in sending out their children and wards to hawk on the streets especially if they had gone through the same process. Only through some level of education does this mindset change.
The disadvantages of street hawking on children, especially the girl child far outweighs what advantages there might be to this practice and the following are some of it :
1.for those children that are in school already, they tend to hawk their wares before going to school and after school hours, they have to wake up very early and sleep late, this negatively affects their psychology, creates room for unseriousness and lack of interest in school work, difficulty in learning and thereby underachieving as a pupil/student that would eventually lead to dropping out of school even before having the basic education and this in the long run is detrimental to the society, only a few of these children can withstand the stress of this practice.
2. Hawking in the street would expose a child to the danger of automobile accidents, and they also risk being kidnapped for rituals and human trafficking, if it’s a girl child she could end up being sold out to the child prostituting rings.
3. it is especially worse for the girl child because in addition to the stress of hawking and trying to cope with school, she is also exposed to all forms of abuse by people on the street that take advantage of the situation to rape and assault them, this could lead to unwanted pregnancies and contacting of sexually transmitted diseases.
Most of these countries have laws in place that should protect children from this practice but the problem is the law is not enforced. Parents and guardians are even unaware of the dangers they expose their wards and children to and also the fact that they are breaking the law by doing such. There are little or no sensitization orientations to this effect. The government’s approach to this menace is lackluster and these children are left to the mercy of their fate.
The world needs to speak out on this, relevant international bodies like UNICEF have a part to play to impress and put pressure on these governments to take serious action to protect children from being exposed to the dangers of street hawking.