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Challenging Heights rescues 11 children from forced labour

BY: Severious Kale-Dery
  James Kofi Annan — Executive Director of Challenging Heights
James Kofi Annan — Executive Director of Challenging Heights

Challenging Heights last week rescued 11 more children between the ages of eight and 16 from the communities around the Lake Volta.

The children who were rescued had worked as child fishermen for years without attending school and were subjected to various forms of abuse.

Nine males and two females were rescued and the figure adds to over 1,700 boys and girls the organisation has so far rescued from slavery in the fishing communities in the country since its establishment in 2003.

Study

The organisation recently undertook a study on the activities of children on the Volta Lake and to check whether those activities constitute child labour.

As part of the observation of this year’s International Day Against Child Labour, which fell on Sunday, June 12, the NGO launched the study, which revealed that 60 per cent of children within two municipalities and three districts in the catchment area interviewed were engaged in child labour.

The two-month study involved a sample size of 2,999 children from five assemblies, namely the Krachi East and West municipalities in the Oti Region, the Buipe District in the Savannah Region, the Pru District in the Bono East Region and the Kpando District in the Volta Region.

The study showed that 1,732 males and 1,250 females were into various hazardous activities such as paddling of canoes, diving down to disentangle trapped nets, scooping water from canoes, casting nets, fetching firewood and fish processing, which exposes the child to smoke for long hours and the use of sharp implements such as knives.

A total of 510 out of 1,086 of the children aged between five and nine engaged in child labour, while 798 out of a total of 1,163 children aged between 10 and 14 interviewed engaged in child labour on the lake. For those aged between 15 and 17, a total of 317 out of the 413 interviewed engaged in child labour.

Activities

Throwing more light into the activities of the organisation, the Executive Director of Challenging Heights, James Kofi Annan, said: “We are basically into anti-slavery with the long-term goal to safeguard the rights of children to education, particularly those affected by human trafficking and modern slavery”.

He said the report, titled “Hidden in Plain Sight: A report on child labour in the fishing industry of Ghana”, concluded that 60 per cent of all children on Lake Volta were child labourers.

Mr Annan said the organisation remained resolute in its fight against child labour and exploitation, especially in the fishing industry in the country.

Globally

Globally, it is estimated that there are over 40 million human beings caught up in slavery, and the slave traders generate over $50 billion annually.

In Ghana, the Global Slavery Index puts the number of people in slavery at 133,000 (Walk Free Foundation, 2018).

Mr Annan said the current rescue contributed to reducing the problem of child labour on the Lake Volta, adding that “we would like to thank all our partners, especially the Ghana Police Service, the Department of Social Welfare and the Ghana Navy for their leadership and support in bringing freedom to these children.”