Mostly women and girls from Sub-Saharan Africa are trafficked into the Middle East every year, and many are unable not trace their way back home.
Governments are aware of the problem of human trafficking, but state interventions seem very minor to be effective.
Obviously, solution for human trafficking is creating job opportunities so that people will desire to stay at home and don’t want to go abroad.
Recruiters often target young women and girls with offers of good paying jobs in domestic service or the hospitality industry, but instead, trafficked most of them for domestic and commercial sex work as well as slavery. Typically, “travel agents” as we call them in Ghana advertise Kuwait, Qatar, Greece, Libya and Saudi Arabia as ideal destination for young enterprising and unsuspecting Ghanaian women and girls.
Women and girls have been trafficked to these countries because recruiters made them understand and believed that it was easy to obtain relevant documents to stay and work in the Middle East.
Incidences showed traffickers advertise “juicy” economic opportunities in the Middle East and are able to convince their victims to willingly sign for the journeys that lead them to being trafficked. But, sadly, most victims left in servitude, and they are sold into commercial sex work, exposed to serious exploitation, torture, harassments and worst forms of human rights abuses.
United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transfer or harbouring of persons through force or deception for the purpose of any form of exploitation.
In fact, no comprehensive data exist on the number of Ghanaian women and girls trafficked into the Middle East or elsewhere. But, available statistics from the Anti-Human Trafficking Units of the Ghana Police and Immigration Services had 20 convictions for offences of human trafficking and 12 for other related offences in 2018.
Ten individual defendants were charged with human trafficking offences and jailed between five and seven years in the same period, says Mrs Freda Prempeh, the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), the outspoken Legislator of the Tano North constituency in parliament said within the period, 92 human trafficking cases were investigated.
Out of this number, the Police investigated 77, Immigration 14 cases and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) one case. There was however, a significant improvement in 2018 in terms of prosecution unlike 2017 when they had only four convictions.
Mrs Prempeh explained her ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that cases of human trafficking in the country are brought to the barest minimum.
The Ministry has developed the Human Trafficking National Plan of Action (NPA 2017-2021), a comprehensive document to support the effective implementation of the Human Trafficking Act 2005, Act 694. It covers four thematic areas– prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.
More so, the Ministry has trained law enforcement officials, social workers and civil society actors and media to educate and support victims of human trafficking. To improve prevention, the ministry has printed more information, education and communication materials to raise and intensify public awareness.
Ghana has successfully established adult shelter to rescue female victims of human trafficking, the shelter, according to the Deputy Minister was operationalized in February this year. So far, about 35 inmates have gone through rehabilitation by receiving medical screening, counselling, training, housing, feeding and others.
Currently, the Gender Ministry is partnering with private shelter to care for rescued children of human trafficking in the country, as the ministry finalise modalities for the operationalization of shelter for children.
The country made significant strides in fighting human trafficking, rating a Tier Two Ranking in the Annual Trafficking in Person (TIP) index, the Eighteenth Annual TIP report revealed. This shows that the government increased efforts in combating human trafficking in 2017, according to the 2018 report, which assessed the anti-trafficking efforts of 187 governments around the world to fight human trafficking including the United States.
The report, released annually by the United States Department of State, lauded Ghana’s efforts in implementing a national anti-trafficking plan, prosecuting and convicting an increased number of labour and sex traffickers, and increasing cooperation across anti-trafficking government agencies.
Additionally, Ghana adopted procedures to identify and refer trafficking victims to necessary services and supported a range of anti-trafficking awareness raising activities, the report stated.
“Although Ghana does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking, these increased efforts have resulted in Ghana’s upgrade from Tier 2 Watch List to a Tier 2 ranking in the 2018 TIP Report”, the report stated.
The TIP Report recommendations include: dedicating increased resources to holding traffickers accountable and providing care to victims, addressing the corruption and interference that impede the investigation of trafficking crimes and developing and providing specialised services for child and adult victims of sex trafficking.
Though government requires commendation for the achievement, this reporter believes that more is required if the country can jump to Tier One. There is urgent need for the government and her development to stimulate action and create partnerships in the fight against trafficking of persons.
Obviously, Ghana’s achievement demonstrated how much could be achieved under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government in fighting human trafficking in the country, an indications for state and non-state actors to support the government in that direction.
Undeniably, Ghana tends to underestimate the scale of human trafficking, believing it occurs in other countries, but rather it is here at our doorstep.
Because it’s a crime that can go unnoticed due to its hidden nature, intensifying awareness among communities is extremely important so that it can be discovered and reported, a best way to combat trafficking in humans.
Heightened awareness helps people to understand the psychological and emotional toil, torture and trauma unsuspecting victims of human trafficking go through.
It’s important for the government to use the International Human Trafficking Awareness Day to call attention to how recruiters put unsuspecting victims to vulnerabilities.
The Day, which falls on July 30 every year was set aside by the United Nations in 2010, during the adoption of the Global Plan for Action to combat Trafficking in Persons (TIPs).
Being celebrated annually to create awareness and intensify advocacy on dangers of human trafficking, the day urges governments worldwide to adopt coordinated and consistent measures to combat human trafficking.
A GNA feature by Dennis Peprah, GNA