The Office of the Public Defender is worried that more parents are inflicting physical injuries on their children.

The director, Office of the Public Defender, Lagos, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, has said that more children now suffer physical abuse from their parents.

In an exclusive interview with Punch on Monday, Rotimi says this is a new trend that has been giving her cause for concern.

She says in 2013, the OPD handled 218 cases of physical child abuse. And for January alone in 2014, it has recorded 15 cases of physical child abuse.

Expressing her displeasure with the development, she says, “In recent times, we see more of physical child abuse. More mothers and guardians are physically and emotionally abusing their children and wards.”

She narrates two peculiar incidents, “Shortly before Christmas last year, we handled two cases that were quite pathetic. One was the case of a child whose guardian inflicted injuries on her buttocks with a blade, after she had been flogged, because she allegedly lost N1,000 – or did they say she stole the money?

“There was the case of another girl whose step-mother had his two hands put in the fire. This, to me,  is the height of frustration.”

On why such parents/guardians assault children, Rotimi notes that when they are caught, they normally ascribe their action to the handiwork of the devil.

She says, “For a biological mum and guardian to physically abuse children, we have,  through observations,  noted that most of them are victims of physical abuse from their husbands. What they do is that they transfer this aggression to the children.”

The OPD boss also explains that there are other forms of domestic violence also being handled within the same period. “There are other cases of some husbands who physically assaulted their wives. There are cases of rape and defilement and there are those of breach of contracts,  among others.”

The Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State, which came into force on May 18, 2007, provides protection against domestic violence and for connected purposes.  The law defines domestic violence as any of the following acts: Physical abuse – sexual abuse including but not limited to rape – incest and sexual assault; starvation; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; economic abuse and exploitation; denial of basic education; intimidation; harassment; stalking; and hazardous attack – including acid bath with offensive or poisonous substance. Others include damage to property; entry into the complainant’s residence without consent where the parties do not share the same residence; or any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards a complainant, where such conduct harms or may cause imminent harm to the safety, health or wellbeing of the complainant; and deprivation.”