Human Trafficking is a National Disgrace
Research shows human trafficking is the third most lucrative trade in the world, behind drug and arms dealing. This type of modern day slavery is a global business whose agents are scattered around the world.
Here in Ghana, the practice exists and it is highlighted occasionally in the media for public attention.
However, the agents and their collaborators in the business operate a sort of cartel who seem so powerful that they continue to recruit people with ease, with the sole aim of exploiting them to fatten their bank accounts.
There are also situations where some parents willingly give their wards to the agents due to poverty or ignorance, following the promise of free training and an assured job by the agents of the traffickers.
In Ghana, the most worrying aspect is the practice of child trafficking, particularly in the towns along the coast. According to organisations engaged in the fight against child trafficking, most children trafficked in Ghana end up in fishing communities around Yeji on the shores of the Volta Lake, where they are subjected to major forms of abuse by their 'owners.'
One fisherman is reported to have bought over thirty children whose ages range between three and 14 years with amounts ranging between GH¢150 and GH¢500, depending on the age.
Trafficked children can also be found on farms, in domestic servitude, mining, stone quarrying, shop keeping, textile industry, restaurants, and sometimes even as beggars.
One basic thing associated with human trafficking is that the victim's fundamental human rights are abused through enforced labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, illegal adoption, and other such ills.
It is encouraging that some Non-Governmental Organisations in the country have taken an interest in tackling this evil practice, but their efforts appear not too have made the desired impact.
The five ‘Rs’ of research, rescue, rehabilitation, reunification, and re-integration which is usually adopted in combating human trafficking must be backed by consistent and effective education and awareness campaign to achieve the desired results.
On Tuesday, a one-day workshop was organised by the Christian Council of Ghana for media practitioners in Accra, where Eric Boakye Peasah, Trafficking Field Manager of the International Organisation for Migration, painted a gloomy picture about how some of the agents in some fishing communities have become so powerful that they are almost untouchables.
What makes it worse is the difficult terrain security agents have to grapple with in their quest to arrest and prosecute these ‘slave masters.’
We at The Statesman believe that nobody is above the law in this country and that the earlier the government, together with interested NGOs mobilise logistics and work to fight the perpetrators to rescue the children the better.
Luckily, the Human Trafficking Act has been passed to give legal backing to attempts to prosecute those involved in this heinous human rights violation.
The task of saving our future leaders is an arduous one, but as the ancients wisely said, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step." We say better late than never.
As always, we repeat our call for the Department of Social Welfare to be better resourced to effectively discharge its duties, which includes protecting the rights of children and the underprivileged.
A larger budget for the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs wouldn’t be a bad start either.