WHY CHILD NANNIES?
In saner and more developed climes, there are numerous registered institutions one can easily rent a nanny if a family opts for one. The prices are standardized based on the government’s minimum wage and the working hours clearly spelt out based on the prior negotiations the family has with the respective nanny agency.
In Africa however, these types of agencies are not easily located around for every family to easily access them. In most countries, these type of agencies are located in the big cities and are usually expensive so only the high income earners can readily afford them. Also, the government minimum wage set doesn’t necessarily apply to private companies as the government fails to enforce these on them. This means there’s no standardized control to the fee an agency can charge a family for its services which means most families will source for nannies at the cheapest outlet they find available.
The cost of getting the nannies doesn’t however excuse the fact that most families settle for child nannies in their homes as opposed to adults acting as nannies for them. There’s the underlying belief among most African families that employing an adult woman to assist in taking care of the children and the household in general could affect the marriage in its entirety. There are usually reports of seduction, either deliberate or accidental, in cases of adult nannies in most families.
There’s also the problem of added responsibility and control for most of these families when they take on an adult nannies into their families. The adult nannies have their own ideas and will disagree with some of the directives cascaded down to her as it doesn’t augur well with her, a scenario most African families try as much as possible to avoid. Adult nannies usually also have a longer term goal that usually doesn’t revolve around the family she’s employed to and could take a walk at any time she deems fit.
These concerns are however nonexistent with child nannies. First, these families believe when they recruit these child nannies, they are doing a sort of good to the family of the child and the child itself by seemingly providing a better housing accommodation for the child. A religious opium for their misunderstood religious dogmas that makes them right with the spiritual deity they subscribe to.
Secondly, humans like to pretend they appreciate dialogue when inwardly, all they seek is total control. Most families recruiting these child nannies want someone they can dominate and bark orders at with complete reverence to them with little consideration for the rights or feelings of the child nanny in question, a luxury they can’t afford with an adult nanny. There’s also the almost nonexistent sexual tension that arises from having a child nanny in the house which reduces the self-imposed psychological tension the woman of the household usually imposes on herself if she has an adult nanny in the house.
Most importantly though, the fees for a child nanny are usually ridiculously cheap for a yearlong service. Most families argue they bear the fees of housing and feeding the child nanny for the entirety of her service to the family which explains the absurd fees they pay for these services. A sad exploitation usually suffered by the girl child in Africa.
THE SCOURGE OF CHILD NANNIES
Nigeria has an average household of 41,726.7 million in 2018 (source: www.euromonitor.com/Nigeria/country-factfile) with over 75% of these households currently using or have used a child nanny before. This is a quite damning statistics in the face of the campaign for the girl-child in the world. 90% of the informal help recruited are usually the girl-child who suffer these malignant abuse of their child rights.
An in-depth research on the condition most of these child nannies go through revealed the mental and physical abuse these children go through while tending to the children of their patrons and matrons. The average age of recruitment of these child nannies usually range between 11 years to 13 years. Most of them treated no different than a commodity purchased on a shopping aisle at a mega store. Their service fees paid to a supposed family member or contact, the very definition of child trafficking and slavery in the 21st century. A realization most families shy away from to make themselves feel good about their actions.
The living quarters of these kids are deplorable and sickening, with most of these children denied education in some families. And in families where the education privileges exist, the child nanny is subjected to an abysmal learning environment with little or no interest in the child actually learning.
The physical abuses comes next with the matrons of the house using every opportunity to hit the little child or scream at the little child. It’s no wonder we have raised a generation of violent youths. These children are denied a chance to play like kids or even take a proper break from the ever continuous menial duties the matrons and patrons seem to come up with. In extreme cases, some of these kids are left in the care of pedophiles and mentally unstable adults who seek to use these child nannies as a pleasure relief objects. Some go as far as raping and sexually violating these children in the most mentally damaging way, a pit some never recover from.
It’s more shocking to know all these shocking acts are perpetrated in front of the impressionable kids they child nannies are tending to. A subtle way of teaching the kids it is okay to tread on people if they are economically more advantaged than them. These families also inherently teach the child nannies to ensure they do whatever is necessary to not be at the bottom of the rung of human abuse.
Recent reviews have shown some of the horrible acts perpetrated by some child nannies to the kids in their care, a sort of retribution acts to the families they are in their service. Some of these acts ranges from physical abuse of the kids to more lethal acts such as poisoning the kids, and sometimes the families. Some of the leaked videos raised a lot of uproars with the average Nigerian pointing fingers at some of the child nannies as agents of the devil sent from the pits of hell. It was quite shocking majority didn’t think it odd that a child that requires tutelage and training and care is being tasked with the responsibility of tending to a child, a herculean task even for the adults.
The abuses suffered by child nannies is quite numerous but it has come to be accepted as a norm in the country and the continent at large. A saddening trend that doesn’t seem to be ending soon.
COMBATTING THE SCOURGE
In Nigeria, the rights of children are easily ignored, an epic failure of the government in dealing with children. This failure needs to be addressed as urgently as possible with the rights of every kid born or living in the country recognized and upheld.
The government also needs to criminalize the use of children as informal helps in any households. This will go a long way on dealing with the use of child nannies in households. Use of children as informal helps in the house should be seen as child trafficking and given an equally worthy prison sentence.
Better awareness should be raised globally on the use of children as informal help by UNICEF and other notable bodies. This will create more awareness against this and educate more people on the evils of this arrangement.
- I.Milligan, R.Withington, G.Connelly, C.Gale; 2016: Alternative Child Care and Deinstitutionalization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Findings of a Desk Review.
- Lauren Alfers; 2016: Our Children do not get the attention they deserve. WIEGO Child Initiative.
- Racheal Moussie; 2016: Child Care from the Perspective of the Women in the Informal Economy. A UN publication for Women’s Economic Empowerment.
- www.euromonitor.com/Nigeria/country-factfile (Accessed 15-June-2019)