Arrest children Kayayei, sanction patrons - Child rights group
A child rights advocacy organisation, Children Believe (CB), formerly Christian Children Fund of Canada (CCFC), has proposed that children between the ages of seven and 16 years who engage in head portering popularly known as "Kayayei" should be arrested while those who patronise their services should also be sanctioned as a way of curbing child labour in the country.
According to the organisation, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) defined child labour as work that deprived children of their childhood potential and dignity and also harmful to their physical and mental development.
Therefore, any work, including head porter (Kayayo), that denied a child his or her education amounted to child labour and it was high time they were arrested and those who patronised their services sanctioned.
The Country Manager of CB, Mrs Esenam Kavi De Souza, made the proposal in a speech read on her behalf at a durbar held in Karaga in the Northern Region to mark this year's International Day Against Child Labour.
The day which is marked on June 12, every year could not be celebrated on that date because of what the organisation descrided as “unforeseen circumstances.”
The durbar, which brought together some schoolchildren, their parents and community members, was jointly organised by CB, World Vision, Right to Play and the Regional Advocacy for Information Network System (RAINS) on the theme: "Act now, end child labour." It was to further press home the need to eliminate the menace.
Mrs De Souza further proposed that during school hours, children who would be found working as Kayayei should be arrested and returned to their parents to be fined for sending their children into the head portering business.
She, however, assured parents that not all work by children was considered child labour, especially when they supported parents in light family work which was not harmful to their health or development and was done after school.
Mrs De Souza further added that work that did not affect attendance at school was not considered child labour, saying those type of work could be skills development as children learnt the trade of their parents.
She also called on CSOs to continue their public education on child labour and its effects on children till the menace was eliminated or brought to the barest minimum for children to enjoy their childhood and realise their potential.
She urged the government to strengthen social protection mechanisms to enhance the family’s capacity to provide financial resources.
The Regional Operations Manager of the World Vision Ghana, Mr Timothy Akampabadai, for his part, noted that children who were free from the burden of child labour were able to fully realise their rights to education, leisure and healthy development.
"We cannot fight streetism, child hawkers, Kayayei, among others, when parents rely on their children for income", he stated and, therefore, urged parents not to shirk their responsibilities towards their children by providing for their educational needs to enable them to be in school and complete their studies.
He said the recent Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS-5) indicated that 21.8 per cent, representing 1.9 million children aged between five and 17 years out of the over eight million nationwide population of children, were engaged in child labour.
In the Northern Region, he said about 13 per cent of children between ages of five and 17 years did not attend school for the fact that they worked on family businesses while 13 per cent stayed at home to help in household chores.
He added that 31.2 per cent of children in the country were engaged in economic activities while 77.5 per cent of them worked between the hours of 6 a.m to 6 p.m. in the Northern Region.