A town with no law, there is no sin there – so goes a Yoruba proverb.
Precious Chinwedu, a nine year old girl who received boiling hot water bath as a punishment for allegedly stolen crayfish is another reminder that there must be a system where children is protected by law of the land beyond cheap court fine.
The story goes that Precious arrived in Lagos July last year from Imo state to be a live in maid for Madam Mbakwe who has a seven month old baby in Lagos.
I suppose part of the deal was that Precious be educated as she is in primary 3. This story is sad on many levels. Who sends a nine-year old child away to work as a maid? How much work can a nine-year old girl who goes to school during the day can actually do to help Madam Mbakwa?
From experience arrangement like this is quite common in Nigeria, however it often happens with family member or someone related in one way or the other but in Precious’ there was no mention of her being relation of Madam Mbakwa.
This is why rule exists to protect children so no adults be it their parents or outside of home can have absolute power over them.
A neighbour testifies to Mbakwa’s cruelty towards Precious – “If any of the neighbours gave her food, she would beat her. We talked to her several times to stop beating the girl, but she refused. I was not at home on the day the incident happened, she did not allow anybody to intervene,”
Looking at the sorry photo of Mbakwa online, one can not rule out possibility of postpartum depression. I know this is rarely a ‘thing’ to take seriously in Naija but yet it is a very serious issue affecting many new mothers the world over -this in anyway does not excuse the treatment she gave to her employee.
I only wish parents from small towns have just enough number of children they are able to look after. Sending children to live outside of home as employee when they are still children themselves is never the best option, rarely in the child’s best interest.
Precious talked about wanting to go back to her parents, I hope the law enforcement officer on her case at least make this happen for the poor child.