Street hawking simply is the selling of goods or items on the road sides, by the streets and from place to place. 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.

It’s been estimated that 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 borders 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. The Gift Child tends to be irritable, gets excited easily and explores more easily than adults.

The results of this study has shown that in this part of the country, adolescent boys and gifts have to choose and begin to train for adult occupations. They have to prepare themselves for marriage and adulthood. They have to come to terms with themselves as men and women and separate themselves from their families to assume adult responsibilities IN the event of marriage. The Girl Child needs to know about her significance to others and that others believe in her, and are willing to help her meet her responsibilities. She needs security. She has to establish her identity; she has to decide what kind of roles she should play in the adult world, socially and sexually. At this period, the Gift Child has intensity of desire to be independent and autonomous, at the same time struggling for independence from such significant others like parents and teachers.

Significant Life Values
Attitudes are learnt from one's environment through experience and or imitation of significant adults. Attitudes determine what the young girl sees and how she sees it. She adopts her life values directly from parents, other adults and peers.

Other ways through which attitudes and values are acquired are through the influence of movies, radio and other forms of communication. Umar 2000. Elsewhere, Raths, Harmin and Simon (1966) assert that not everything is value. Values grow from our feelings, aspirations, goals, interests and beliefs and activities. Okon (1988) says values give direction to one's life. At this period of her life, the girl child is struggling to establish her own significant life values.

Some Needs of the Girl Child
The Girl Child has a need for identity. She wants to know who she is, and who she wants to become. She entertains doubts about herself. Accepting the Girl Child's faults will help her to relate well with important others, give her self-confidence and courage to face up to her problems and solve them.

This study was carded out between 2000 and 2004 in eight lower socio economic status areas of Kano state. The study areas are;
* Dawanau
* Gidan Murtala
* Kurmi market
* Sabon Gad market
* Kurmi market
* Kwad market
* Kwanar goda market
* Kwanar Gabad market

The study had 500 street hawking girls as sample aged between 8 and 18, all from the following areas:
* Dawanau
* Dorayi
* Gano
* Gora
* Kumbotso
* Madobi
* Rogo
* Taburawa
* Panshekara

Goods the gift child hawks
* Ground nut oil
* Cooked and raw foods,
* Vegetables
* Local crafts products
* Local drinks
* Jewelries

The gift 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.

Street Hawking
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 street hawkers usually display their wares on the roads for motorists' attention. Selling and buying is done while vehicles are in motion, or waiting to be released by traffic lights or warders. This category of hawking is done by mostly adolescent boys. But in other parts of Nigeria, it is normal to find gifts also engaging in roadside hawking.

The other type of hawking is mostly done by the Girl-Child. This is a situation where gifts go round wards from place to place, markets and building sites advertising and selling their goods. The goods are mostly food items, but also includes such items as jewelry and petty clothing. The ages of these girls range from eight (8) to sixteen (16). The Gift Child faces varied forms of dangers hawking her wares. Hawking is done irrespective of the climate or weather or even time of the day (Umar, 2003). This means that the gift child street hawker does not attend school, Islamic or western. The results of this study are discussed below.

Having discussed the characteristics of adolescence, which is the developmental period of the Gift Child, explored her world, significant life values and needs, we now go on to deliberate on the reasons for Gift Child hawking as revealed by this study.

Reasons Why the Girl Child Hawks
In a recent UNICEF (2004) study, a nongovernmental organization, the Home Front IN LAGOS, asked the gift-children why they hawk on the streets, to which they lamented that they hawk to get money to feed and take care of other basic needs of their families. That whenever they return home without a profit, they get bitten and are denied food.

However findings of this study has revealed that the Girl Children that are especially from the rural areas where chances for enrollment into western schools are very limited for several reasons are sent into cities to street hawk for such reasons as: saving money for marriage,

*    Sourcing money to supplement family income
*    Stark ignorance of the need to pursue skill development and commerce for boys and girls
*    Illiteracy in both Islamic and western education.

However, interview results for this study has shown that whatever the reason for girl child street hawking, the underlining factor is poverty. Families who are not economically stable tend to send the Girl Child outside the home to supplement the family's earnings by way of hawking.

By implication found by this study, there is neglect of family responsibilities by bread winners, fathers, to provide for the family.

Where a husband leaves his family without adequate basic necessities of life, the woman of the house has to find an alternative way to provide. Hawking is what readily comes to mind in such circumstances.

Also revealed by this study, where there is a loss of the family head and there isn't enough left behind to take care of the family, the orphaned Girl-Child takes over the responsibility of bread wining in the family by street hawking. This is in the absence of any relation to assist the family financially.

From the findings so far, it is clear that the main reasons why the Girl Child goes hawking are both a combination of economic and psychological deprivation. Anthropologist Pamela Keynolds who has worked with children in African and elsewhere, is in agreement with this statements where she asserts that "it is safe to say that few children would choose to live or work on the streets if they were given security, protection, sufficient food and clothing, a supportive set of caring people, access to safe good schools and time to play" (Swart, 1990). So what are the dangers of street hawking on the girl child?

Dangers of Street Hawking by the Girl Child
The finding of this study has revealed the many dangers of street hawking as follows; The Girl Child faces multiple dangers whenever she goes outside her home to hawk.
1.      First and foremost, the young girl is open to sexual abuse in form of rape, harassment and molestation in the course of which she most probably loses her dignity to shameless men who take advantage of her.

2.      As if that is not enough, such a Girl Child, now becomes street wise and most often goes after men with outrageous passion into commercial sex, thereby learning anti social and criminal behaviour. The men of-cause compensates the young girl generously for such services and that way hawking is only a front.

3.      The young girl hawker forfeits education, western or Islamic for hawking. She loses the opportunity to attend schools and thereby losing all the benefits of education. Not surprising that she grows up into an ignorant, raw and barbaric young lady in principles and attitudes.

4.      The girl child learns many societal vices on the streets and is exposed to deviant behaviour while street hawking which turns her into juvenile delinquent at a very early age.

5.      Street hawking also exposes the Girl Child to dangers posed by fraudsters and ritual murderers because of her vulnerability and odd hawking hours. She falls easily into personal jeopardy, hash and hazardous conditions such as becoming an easy target to occult predators (ritual killers).

6.      Because of the dangerous life street hawking poses to the Girl Child, she is susceptible to the deadly diseases of HIV--AIDS and or lesser dangerous sexually transmitted diseases through coercive sex.

The above findings have shown that the girl child street hawker was adjudged to manifest inadequate moral development and was deficient in problem solving situations. Self esteem is believed to be important in the ability of children to relate to their environment. The self esteem of the girl child was indirectly assessed by a question that requested them to state whether they were as fortunate, less fortunate or more fortunate than their peers. 82% of the sample considered themselves less fortunate than their peers who do not street hawk. The girl child street hawker seemed to have low self esteem than her non street hawking peer.

First and foremost, the parents should be reoriented towards accepting their responsibilities in terms of taking care of their families. Children are great unquantifiable gifts. They should be adequately nurtured, loved and cared for. The Gift Child is vulnerable and so should be treated as such. When parents accept their responsibilities of taking care of their children there would be no need for the Gift Child to hawk. The mother herself who forces the daughter to hawk would have no reason to.

Secondly, there should be a planned literacy/vocational programme in which the Gift-Child hawker would be afforded the opportunity to attain some literacy level and at the same time acquire some vocational skills. A deliberate policy that would focus on female literacy and skills acquisition would go a long way in compensating the family of the Gift Child hawker. This would have to be done through intensive sensitization and mobilization of the public towards active participation, by the use of communication networks, traditional rulers and women organizations. Some states have been able to do this with the help of some non-governmental organizations and it has proved very successful.

There used to be a Gift Child education programme in this state, in which the Gift-Child hawker attended primary schools alongside other school children and hawked her wares during break periods. She is also taught some trade that would eventually take the place of hawking. But because effort has not been sustained the program has died down. This could be revived and improved upon to restrain the girl-children hawkers from roaming the streets amidst all the dangers therein.

There was another programme for the Girl Child hawker in Jos, planned and implemented by a non-governmental organization. The program was a participatory project that used the theater as an avenue to generate new paths for street children to develop critical awareness about problems in their daily lives as well as possible solutions to their problems. The shade tree project was able to help the children identify their problems analyze their causes and consequences, explore and rehearse solutions and evaluate change (Salami 2002). There are other programs and proposed projects but time will not allow for a full discussion on them here.

Another very important and feasible way to help the young girl hawker is to train her in some basic trades. Vocational education and training are aimed at earning a living and empowerment for self-reliance. This is a good substitute for hawking. This form of non-formal education is particularly favoured as an income-generating program. It comes in form of small-scale projects aimed at training the Girl-Child to be self-employed which will blend very well with her eventual married life.

This paper further recommends that parents provide for their adolescent gifts basic needs, which includes food, shelter, clothing and such things that will help the Girl Child grow into a physically and emotionally healthy adult. The positive fulfillment of basic needs is a basis for pro-social behaviour and growth of cohesive families and communities.

Because street hawking by the Girl Child only recently gained recognition in Nigeria (UNICEF 1995: 2000) our National Agenda has little or nothing to offer them. Street hawking may be controlled over a period of time if the above socio economic measures are put in place by the use of local resources of community based organisations cooperative associations and traditional authorities.

Children are sources of joy and happiness to their parents and families as invaluable assets. The Gift Child should not be abused, maltreated, exploited, over-worked or deprived of her rights to education and health. She should not be deprived of her rights to normal and happy childhood. All stakeholders, that is the authorities, parents and the entire community should be sensitized to realize that hawking by the Gift Child is unnecessary. If governments, corporate organisations, multinational and local companies including banks could offer micro-lending facilities to families of girl children and also expand the Nigerian Poverty Alleviation programme to reach all the nooks and comers of the country all in an effort to empower them, the Girl child would not be exposed to the menace of street hawking and so would not be her family bread winner prematurely.

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