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Human Trafficking and Child's Rights in Ghana

For the final webinar in our #GLOVicariously summer series, we were joined by Serge Akpalou, site director for GESI Ghana. Akpalou discussed human trafficking and children’s right in Ghana, particularly in relation to Lake Volta.

Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that, one way or another, affects each country in the world. Over the past few years, Ghana has been known to be a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Akpalou focused on the background, causes, challenges, and responses to human trafficking.

"To put this into context, the US has a population of 320 million, with an estimated 403,000 in modern slavery. In Ghana, with a population of 30 million, 133,000 are living modern slavery,” shared Akpalou. “Human trafficking is the movement of people for the purpose of exploitation and is a form of modern slavery. 22% of children in Ghana are engaged in child labor. Of those children, about 60% of them have been trafficked on Lake Volta.”

Lake Volta is a manmade lake spanning 3,282 square miles, accounting for 3.6% of the total area of Ghana, and is fourteen times the size of Chicago. With a strong fishing industry, Lake Volta plays a large role in child trafficking and child labor.

Akpalou reviewed what he describes as the four root causes that contribute to child trafficking thriving:

  • Poverty: “Traffickers will target poor families and come at a very vulnerable time. They will say ‘Listen, I know you are poor. Give me your child, and I will take him to school so he can earn money for you.’ Well intentioned families in poverty can fall for this.”
  • Naivety/ignorance: “People may not realize the extent of what is going on, and it’s not uncommon for children to spend some time living with extended family, and so the situation of a child not living with parents might not be questioned.”
  • Family separation, size and neglect: “Many couples will have a traditional marriage, which has no legal implications. With this, a man can just decide to leave his wife and children, making her the responsible party for the children. Traffickers will take advantage of this and offer to take a child, claiming it will help the single mother.”
  • Weak law enforcement and policy implementations: “While we have certain laws that fight against human trafficking, the implementation is very challenging and difficult to manage.”

Akpalou stressed that four approaches to end child trafficking need to work in an intertwined fashion for meaningful, long lasting results. Known as the ‘4Ps,’ prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership all need to be happening in coordination together.  

Finally, Akpalou concluded by going in depth about the challenges to combat child trafficking, summarizing the challenges into five key points:

  • Inadequate resources and funding
  • Cultural norms/ignorance
  • Lack of shelters
  • Delays in court proceedings
  • Interferences

Watch the Full Webinar:

About #GLOVicariously Webinar Series: 

Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing anti-racism protests, global engagement across difference and development of intercultural skills are critically needed to build a more just and peaceful world. We want to continue fostering global learning opportunities for students throughout this summer 2020 through our virtual webinar series, #GLOVicariously. #GLOVicariously webinars feature speakers involved in GLO programs who have expertise on a variety of critical global issues. View all #GLOVicariously webinar recaps.