ActionAid Ghana/GAWU poised to combat modern slavery in Ghana

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Bashiratu Kamal and Anthony SK Morrison during their presentations
Bashiratu Kamal and Anthony SK Morrison during their presentations

There’s a rigid legal regime to guard against child labour in Ghana and the world at large. In Ghana, some of the legal frameworks include the 1992 Republican Constitution; the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560); the Human Trafficking Act 2005, (Act 694); the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732); the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651); the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act (Act 554 of 1998); the Minerals and Mining Act 2006, (Act 703) and the Child Rights Regulations 2002 (L.I. 1705).

Although these legal frameworks are meant to protect children from labour, the ILO estimates that a staggering 152 million children worldwide are still involved in child labour.

Roughly 71% of the child labourers work in agriculture, where they get exhausted with long hours of work in the hot sun.

This problem is particularly acute in Africa, where nearly 72.1 million of the child labourers are found, mostly in the agriculture sector, according to ILO.

In Ghana, it is estimated that 21.8% of children are child labourers. With the provisional figures of the 2020 Population and Housing Census (PHC) putting the population below 18 years at about 14.2 million, it means that more than three million children are caught in the web of child labour.

According to the Ghana Living Standards Survey Round Six (GLSS 6, 2013/14), 77% of child labourers are in the agriculture sector; 12.4% in wholesale and retail trade; 3.8% in the manufacturing; and 3.2% in accommodation and food service.

Again, 0.7% of child labour is in the construction sector; 0.4% in the transport and storage sector, with 0.3% found in the mining industry, while others activities constitute 1.9%.

These figures do not merely look scary, but the reality on the ground is that, child labour continues to consume many children in Ghana, robbing them of their future.

We know GHANA of has signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The SDGs are the global benchmark for combatting and eradicating poverty, and social injustice among others.

Target 8.7 of the SDGs charges member States to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”.

As part of efforts to stem the tide of child labour in Ghana, a project to combat child labour in the country’s agricultural sector value chain was launched in Accra last September, 2021.

The project is being facilitated by ActionAid Ghana, an NGO, in collaboration with the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

The project is intended to complement the government’s effort at eradicating child labour which is manifested in the form of forced labour, child labour (including the worst forms of child labour), human trafficking, debt bondage and unfair contract farming practices.

Dubbed, ‘Combating modern slavery in Ghana’, the project will be implemented in the Northern, Upper West, Bono, Ahafo and Oti regions.

The 11 beneficiary districts are Kpandai, East Gonja, Nanumba South, Sissala East, Wa East, Lawra, Jaman North, Jaman South, Tain, Nkwanta South and Jasikan.

In all, about 26,700 people are expected to benefit from the three-year initiative, which will be implemented in 100 communities.

Throwing more light on the project in a presentation at a media training for some members of GARDJA and other agric journalists on Wednesday, 17th November, 2021 in Accra, Bashiratu Kamal, a Feminist, Unionist, Gender and Labour Specialist – GAWU of TUC-GH, mentioned other stakeholders in the implementation of the project to include ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in the beneficiary regions.

Other stakeholders she also mentioned were, like-minded civil society organisations (CSOs), victims and survivors of modern slavery and the media.

According to her, the initiative was aimed at identifying, preventing and addressing child and forced labour within the agricultural sector, including children and women involved in agricultural plantations under conditions of serving humanity.

Madam, Bashiratu Kamal, added that, it would also enhance the knowledge of individuals and communities on modern slavery practices to enable them to act in concert to prevent such happenings.

According to her, human trafficking, child and forced labour and its related forms of practices persist in the country and addressing them will go a long way to help achieve the objectives of the 8.7 of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which charges member states to ‘take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking.

Anthony SK Morrison, the CEO for the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana, indicated that, achieving decent work in the agricultural sector is key to reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth, especially in the rural communities.

He also underscored the need for timely engagement with experts in the child labour value chain, Influencers, Mentors, as well as some business owners in order to bring them closer to some of these vulnerable children, to give them some sort of hope and aspiration, to bring out the best in them.

Mr. Anthony SK Morrison, further mentioned that, the chamber is still pushing with the Ministry of Employment for an integral policy for all agribusiness entities to tap into.

“So the chamber as a body, we seek to strengthen a lot of collaboration and partnership, especially with our Media partners through our advocacy and policy engagements. And also notwithstanding our other strategic collaboration with GAWU, GNFFA, and all the National famer host Associations. We work actively to also support skill development which I think that in this kind of very important engagements, ….we would also need to tap into and identify some of the trainings we can give to some of these children who are constrained in child labour, that are scattered across the country,” Mr. Morrison, posited.

Speaking on the interventions, challenges and gaps in the subject matter, Madam Abena Apreku Badu-Aboagye, from the Ministry of Gender Child and Social Protection (MoGCSP), noted that, modern slavery remains a serious problem due to the high informality in the economy, leaving Ghana as a source, transit and a destination country for Human Trafficking.

She explained that, “there is internal and external human trafficking in Ghana. The internal trafficking predominantly involve children and used for begging, small scale mining, hawking, fishing, commercial sex, petty crime. Whereas the external human trafficking involves cross border and more young adults.

It has also been observed there are independent child migrants in Ghana who move on their own and become very vulnerable to trafficking. It is intertwined with migration both the regular and irregular.

More men are found in the irregular form of migration than women. Most women migrate with proper documentations but through deceit and other characteristics of human trafficking are exploited at the destination country.”

“Several social protection initiatives as developed by government must meet the aspirations of the vulnerable. And effective advocacy, education and sensitization must be enhanced to address this menace.”

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