Support measures to stop child exploitation - Ministry urges stakeholders
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) has stated that there cannot be any justifiable reason for engaging and endangering the lives of children on farms, factories and offices in the country.
It has consequently called for measures to curb the phenomenon of children used as work hands on farms, streets and factories.
"We cannot look on unconcerned as every act that negatively affects children affect the economic fortunes of this country in the long term," it said.
The Deputy Director of the Human Trafficking Secretariat of the MOGCSP, Sena Owusu-Gibson, said that at the opening of a two-day sensitisation and capacity building training to equip Cocoa Cooperatives in Ghana, social workers from the regional directorates, and labour inspectors from the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations to detect, identify and report adequately on issues of human trafficking and its related forms.
The training was organised by the ministry in collaboration with the Department of Co-operatives and the European Union through Expertise France.
Ms Owusu-Gibson said it had been established that when children were trafficked, they were often used as farm hands, as workers on high seas, and even in some forms of sexual exploitation.
The training was, therefore, meant to educate participants on the international and national legal framework in the fight against human trafficking, as well as on the indicators and principles for referral and the management of such cases.
Ms Owusu-Gibson pointed out that Africa had been caught up in the dilemma of either keeping children in school, enlisting them in skills acquisition, or pushing them out onto the farms or onto the streets to work to fend for themselves, and to also help to supplement family incomes.
Through that, she noted, many children had become victims of various forms of exploitation, including human trafficking, one of the worst forms of exploitation.
She said the work of cooperatives in registering, auditing, inspecting, arbitrating and sensitising was very crucial in the fight against human trafficking and child labour because they had the power to halt or curtail the engagement of unqualified hands and the resulting consequences of exploitation.
“Cocoa cooperatives implement farmers development programmes aimed at improving the living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families. To guarantee improved living conditions, it is imperative that cocoa farmers make sure there is no form of child labour and child trafficking in their farming practices,” she stated.
Labour exploitation of children
The Deputy Registrar, Department of Co-operatives, William Kwashie Darlie, said labour exploitation and forced labour of people, especially children in cocoa farms in the country, had been the subject of particular attention from the international community for some time now, and that cocoa production cooperatives served as valuable link in addressing the problem of human trafficking.
The Project Manager of Expertise France Ghana, Serge Akpalou, said children were being exploited for cheap labour to do hazardous work in cocoa farms due to poverty.
The sensitisation programme and education, he explained, was intended to educate stakeholders on the negative effects of hazardous work on the development of children.
“The fight against human trafficking cannot be done by the government alone, and all stakeholders need to be involved,” he emphasised.