[Opinion]Human Trafficking Menace: A Scourge on Humanity as World Marks International Day of Prayer
By Damian Avevor
On February 8 every year, the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking is marked and this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Christians have been invited to participate in an online Prayer Marathon.
The theme chosen for this year is “An Economy without Human Trafficking” which is aimed to bring into the spotlight one of the main causes of human trafficking: the dominant economic model of our time, whose limits and contradictions are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a video message sent on the occasion of the 7th International Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking in Persons on Monday, February 8, 2021, Pope Francis said “I address all of you who work against human trafficking and who are spiritually united today on this World Day of Prayer, which also has a specific intention: 'An Economy without Human Trafficking.”
Recalling that February 8 is the liturgical memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita - a slave girl who became a saint and a universal symbol of the Church’s commitment against slavery - Pope Francis also extended his message to “all people of goodwill who pray, engage, study and reflect on the fight against human trafficking,” especially to those who, like St. Bakhita, “have experienced the tragedy of trafficking in their own lives.”
Human trafficking has become a major menace in Ghana and other parts of the African continent. The miseries and stultifying effects of the cruelties of the slave trade which Africa suffered for four centuries before its abolition are better forgotten than remembered, but the world is currently plagued by modern day forms of the trade, dehumanizing the conditions of persons who fall victim to it.
It is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, trading or receipt of persons within and across borders by the use of force, threats and other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power, or exploitation of vulnerability. It is also against the law to give or receive payments and benefits to achieve consent. Exploitation of people include at the minimum, induced prostitution.
Some of the root causes of human trafficking in Ghana as poverty and desperation which maintain a pool of vulnerable victims, Ignorance, large family size and neglect, weak law enforcement and policy implementation, a culture that accepts treating young boys, women and girls as objects that can be bought and sold.
For many decades, Religious groups especially the Catholic Church in Ghana has played a critical role in the development of the country, providing essential social services and interventions that touch the core of human existence in helping curb the increasing rate of human trafficking.
In order to develop a programme of action directed at reducing and possibly eradicating the trafficking and smuggling of persons across national, regional and continental boundaries, the Migrants Commission of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference had over the years been organizing Workshops on the dangers of the menace as well as undertaken measures in helping to combat it.
Making efforts to combat and eradicate human trafficking is one of the efforts put in place by the Church through its Social Development Unit of the Department of Human Development at the National Catholic Secretariat.
One of the missions of the Church in Ghana is to expose and help eradicate modern-day slavery with the vision of having a world where the root causes of human trafficking are adequately addressed.
In my view, active partnerships with other advocacy groups in raising public awareness about human trafficking and domestic servitude as a focal point to the Church’s goals, as well as, education of the general public on the implication and the impact of domestic servitude on families and the victims must be intensified. Ghanaian women could also be empowered to play a role by championing the fight against Human Trafficking and Child labour in the society since they were the most vulnerable. Women are indispensable and play a crucial role in the society. Hence, the need for them to join in the fight against human trafficking and child molestation.
It is unfortunate that in this modern-day Ghana, human trafficking has become a deceptive type of international and domestic crime where traffickers exploit vulnerable men, women, and children in slave-like conditions of forced labour and/or sexual services.
Even though the Government of Ghana has ratified the following conventions: ILO Convention No. 182 on the elimination of West Forms of Child labour WFCL 182, 138 min. Age; ILO Convention on the abolition of Forced Labour; The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol, 2000); Smuggling Protocol/ Trafficking Protocol; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; African Charter on Human and People’s Rights; the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Optional protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Pornography and Prostitution and Convention on the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the situation of human trafficking is still prevalent and real in the country.
Of late, many people have been thinking that slavery is a thing of the past, but this social plague remains all too real in today's world with child labor, forced prostitution, trafficking for organs and a variety of forms of forced labour.
Obviously, trafficking, which generates huge amounts of income for organized crime, threatens peace because it is based on a lack of recognition of the fundamental human dignity of its victims.
Throughout the world, in rural and urban settings, victims are tricked in an uncountable form of exploitive situations including the commercial sex industry, factories, construction, domestic servitude, and agricultural work. Human trafficking is a global tragedy that robbed victims of their basic human rights and a form of modern-day slavery. Regrettably Ghana is a Source, Transit, and a Destination Country.
The two major routes in West Africa along which children are trafficked are the Mali-Burkina Faso-La Cote d’Ivoire route, and the Togo-Benin-Nigeria-Cameroon route, with Ghana being a strategic transit point between the two routes.
Ghana has both Cross-Border and Domestic Human Trafficking. Trafficking in persons is the second largest criminal activity in the world, following illegal drugs just in front of illegal arms.
Internal trafficking occurs when women and children are trafficked within the country for work in the fishing industry, as domestic servants, cocoa plantation labourers, street vendors, porters, and for the use in sexual exploitation while External trafficking involves the moving of women, men and children across our boarders for all kinds of activities including sexual exploitation.
Ghanaians have a duty to stop engaging children as head potters since it is against the laws of Ghana as enshrined the Labour Act, 2003 and the Children Act, 1995. Ghanaian women need to help bring smiles to the faces of recued victims of human trafficking since it affected the dignity since they had the onerous task of ensuring that their children and others do not become victims.
Indeed, human trafficking is considered one of the most heinous crimes and a modern-day slavery as traffickers’ profit from the misery of innocent people especially women and children. It is a crime that often uses force, violence and terror to control their victims, often violating their rights and dignity.
On the domestic scene, both adults and children are lured from the rural areas to urban environs with promises of greener pastures and better opportunities of education, only to have the victims visited with difficult and dehumanizing working and living conditions.
A story is told in Ghana about the harrowing experience of a bread baker, who stopped her bread-baking business in Ghana with the hope of making more money as a nanny in Russia, only to be lured into prostitution. There are genuine demands for house-helps, laundry persons and other forms of domestic work but one cannot always be sure such demands would escape abuse.
Yes, human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that had become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society," international security and laws, the economy, families and communities.
There is the need for effective networking and joint investigative mechanism among the Security Agencies. If care is not taken to totally eliminate this canker, sooner or later, countries will among other negative things, have large populations of cultureless and religiousless people who do not accept or even understand what love is all about and thus will live without morals.
In my personal opinion, interventions by the Government to find jobs for the youth and also encourage children to stay in schools will go a long way to curb poverty, so that parents would be able to keep their children by their side.
Ghana has relevant and adequate legal frameworks in place to prevent trafficking in persons as well as rescue victims of this modern-day business in persons. The Human Trafficking Act, the Domestic Violence Act (Act 732), the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act are all in place and if effectively implemented, the modern-day slave trade could be eliminated.
Source: Damian Avevor//Newswatchgh.com