Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Girl Child Labour in Nigeria

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Girl Child Labour in Nigeria is the high incidence of girls ages 5–14 who are involved in economic activities outside of education and leisure. The prevalence of the girl child labour in Nigeria is largely due to household wealth but other factors such as the educational accomplishment of parents, peer pressure and demand factors such as high demand for domestic maid and sex all contribute to the high incidence of girl child labour in the country. In addition, in many rural and Muslim communities in Northern Nigeria, children are sometimes asked to aid secluded women or mothers in running errands.


A large number of the children work as maids, shop helps and street hawkers. Yet, the use of young girls in economic activities exposes them to the dangers and other problems such as sexual assault, missing classes, lack of parental care and exploitation. In addition, the work of the girl child is not recognized by law and any form of employee benefit is negligible.


Starting in the mid-1980s, the adverse economic conditions in Nigeria, a country where men constituted the majority of the employees in the formal sector forced many women to increase their engagement in the informal sector but labour-intensive sector so as to supplement household income and this is accomplished while working on domestic duties. In Nigeria, strategies by undertaken by women in the informal sector include working long hours in the markets and using their children to hawk goods on the streets to reduce the burden. However, apart from missing classes, many girls face health and safety risk including exhaustion, attempted sexual assault and kidnapping. Since the beginning of the Structural adjustment Programme in Nigeria, the country went through a period of economic hardship where families had to improvise new strategies to survive, among which were child trafficking and sending children to the cities as house girls.


In many rural communities, girl child labour has been part of the process and is believed to aid girls in developing home skills, helping others and family solidarity. Activities include gathering fire wood. As such socialization is a major reason girls are preferred to boys in the recruitment of maids. However, those types of work do sometimes impede the educational prospect of the girls. In some Northern Nigerian Fulani communities, the girl-child helps her mother by hawking milk or other produce from their family farm or made by the mother.

Domestic helps

Due to division of labor according to gender in households and also because of socialization, many Nigerian households prefer to use girls as maids. The girl child domestic help in Nigeria are girls aged under 15 who work as maids in the households of families who are in a higher income bracket that those of their parents. In return, the wealthier family pays her or her parents or provide her training in some skill. However, the domestic maid face different challenges in this new environment including child abuse and sexual assault. In some instances, some of the girls are under the age of 8, In Nigeria, most of the girls are from the Southern and Middle Belt regions. The demand for domestic helps in Nigeria and nearby African countries has increased the incidence of child trafficking. This process is enhanced by the invisibility of the girl child in domestic work because it is considered normal in many urban households.

To source for domestic helps organized networks go to towns and villages in Southern states like Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Cross River, Ekiti and Oyo to procure the services of children who are then transported to other states for domestic work. In 1999, a boat carrying children from Akwa Ibom to Gabon was intercepted by the police.

Street hawking

A large number of girls below the age of 15 engage in the vending of goods on roads, carriage of goods to customers and begging of alms. On average, more primary and secondary school age girls engage in street trading than boys. The young girls choose specific routes and road junction to vend goods before returning home in the evening. Apart from hawking, some girls also engage in street begging sometimes known as al majeri in the North.


About 8% of girl hawkers have been subjected to sexual abuse including cases of rape and sexual violence. Young girls are also exposed to adult challenges and deviant behavior at an early age while having time for to attend classes and complete school work.

Apart from exposures to health risk, child abuse and sexual assault, girl child labor in Nigeria has led to an increase in adolescent age commercial sex work exposing the girls to vagaries of street life at an early age. Some young girls are trafficked by organized networks who lie to the girls and their parents that they will be house maids in the city.


Girl Child Labour in Nigeria Wikipedia

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