The dream of finding better life remains a strong motivation for many Ghanaians, particularly, the young people, and they are ready to take every risk to live this dream
They do not see any wall too high to scale .In spite of their consciousness and understanding of the potential dangers, they would not be persuaded from making the perilous journey through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe and other parts of the world.
Figures released in September, last year, by the Migration Information Centre (MIC) of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), showed that 547 Ghanaians, 377 of them females, and the remaining 170, males, were deported from the Gulf States in 2017.
In 2016, a total of 16,367 Ghanaians left the country to the Gulf Region. The number of those denied entry into foreign countries, during that very same year, came to 1,245, while 732 others were deported for various migration irregularities.
Between November, 2015, and February, 2016, it is estimated that 5,400 Ghanaians traveled to the Gulf States. About 4,100 of them, females, found their way to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Oman, were the other destinations.
The staggering figures give cause to worry considering the harrowing tales of abuse of female immigrants in the Gulf Region, told by people, returning from the region.
Ama (not the real name), returnee, aged 30, and a mother of two, from Assin-Fosu in the Central Region, was baited with a fake well-paying supermarket job by a relative to travel to Saudi-Arabia barely a year after her wedding.
The husband was opposed to the idea but she got the backing of the parents and siblings. A family land was sold to raise money to finance her trip.
Ama, eventually, left the country without informing either the husband or two children only to arrive in Saudi Arabia, to discover that she had been tricked and sold into slavery. Her passport was immediately seized by the Agent.
She found herself in a demanding cleaning job, something she never could have imagined doing, and slept four hours a day.
Disappointed with he turn of events, she asked to be sent back to Ghana but was ignored by the Agent in Saudi Arabia.
After weeks, she re-established contact with her agent’s relative and demanded to be sent back home. But she was asked to pay the cost of her ticket before she would be allowed to travel back home.
Unable to raise the amount, she was confined -prohibited from going out. She was regularly harassed, verbally abused, physically and sexually assaulted.
She said: “I became a sexual object to the son of my boss and himself. They took turns to sexually devour me for hours and days with threats and heaps of insults. My boss usually took his turn any time his wife was not around and threatened to kill me if I told his wife.”
“As if that was not enough, he once pounced on me at night when I was menstruating and forcefully had sex with me. Thereafter, he pointed a gun at me, ordering that I licked his penis with blood stains on it.”
“I was devastated and refused to do that. He hit my forehead with the butt of his gun and dragged me slowly to the washroom to bath him. All this while, blood was flowing all over my body.”
Fortunately or unfortunately, she was later joined by two other females from Kenya who suffered the same fate. They could only complain amongst themselves and dared not report the man to the security agencies.
That was because, one of their co-workers had previously been dismissed without benefits after she reported a sexual harassment case to the police and the victim ended up, being accused of prostitution.
The Agents would not want to hear anything about Ama’s suffering, casting her claim of physical and sexual abuse as a make-up story just to get them to fly her back home.
Her parents, who were not working got heart-broken but they were helpless as they were struggling to make ends meet after supporting her with all their life savings.
She was dealt another blow, by the decision of the husband to divorce and relocate to another community with the kids to avoid the shame, she had brought to the family.
She is now back home and has started operating a table-top business with GHs6,000.00, she managed to save. She has vowed never again.
She told this writer that there are many Ghanaians being held in Saudi jail awaiting deportation and advised everybody to avoid irregular migration.
Employment agents, who lure unsuspecting girls and women to undertake these dangerous trips hide the truth from them. Their only interest is the money they are making.
People get to the Gulf States, only to discover when it is too late, that things are not as rosy as they were made to believe. They live under terrible conditions, unable to access medical attention when they fall ill because they are illegal immigrants and dread what would befall them when they are discovered.
Training and orientation programmes ought to be organised for potential migrants, to assist them to have better understanding of their rights and the terms of agreement they sign with recruitment agencies.
It is also important to up public education using the churches, mosque and community durbars, to discourage people from traveling to other countries without the necessary authorisation or documents required under immigration regulation. This should productively support the enforcement efforts of the GIS.
Embassies and Diplomatic Missions of Ghana abroad need to be interested in how Ghanaian migrants are doing and the government should put the activities of licensed recruitment agencies under scrutiny, to prevent them from exploiting potential migrants.
Those, who recruit innocent Ghanaian ladies into slavery, must answer for their actions.
Yes, international migration laws promote labour migration, especially during this era of increasing globalization, countries, however, must do more to give protection to migrants.