GHANA: 'Grace period' over for buyers and sellers of children, gov't official says
- --- IRIN <noreply@...> wrote:
> From: "IRIN" <noreply@...>~RE
> To: "RE Ausetkmt" <ausetkmt@...>
> Subject: GHANA: 'Grace period' over for buyers and sellers of children, gov't
> official says
> Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 20:19:14 -0000
> GHANA: 'Grace period' over for buyers and sellers of children, gov't official says
> EKUMPOANO, 29 May 2007 (IRIN) - Ghana's government says it is ready to start
> enforcing a two-year-old law to prosecute parents who sell their children to
> "We have not enforced the law because we first wanted to create enough awareness
> because of the cultural setting in which we find ourselves," Ghana's Minister for
> Women and Children Affairs Hajia Alima Mahama told IRIN.
> "Now we are going to start prosecuting. The grace period is over."
> In Ghana, as in many parts of Africa, the notion that a child belongs to the
> community makes it acceptable for parents to give a child away to assist a neighbour
> or relative.
> But as Ghanaians have got poorer that custom has been perverted. Sometimes, parents
> sell their children to strangers, who treat them as commodities to be hired out or
> sold for work.
> The exact number of children currently in the hands of traffickers is not known, but
> Eric Peasah, trafficking expert at the International Organisation for Migration in
> Ghana, estimated that it is likely to run at least into the hundreds.
> Ghana's child trafficking law was passed in 2005 but has not been strictly enforced.
> It makes it illegal to sell a child for whatever purpose, but also criminalises the
> act of encouraging parents to give up their children for money. Ten years' jail time
> is the maximum sentence.
> For children already sold off to traffickers, the International Organisation for
> Migration (IOM) -- in collaboration with the government and local NGOs -- retrieves
> children, reunites them with their families, and provides micro-credit loans.
> Government and IOM programs have received mixed reviews among the Ghanaians the
> program is supposed to be targeting.
> Nana Korsah VII, chief of Ekumpoano village 85 km west of the capital, Accra, which
> has about 2,000 inhabitants, agreed giving parents good jobs would go a long way to
> stamp out child trafficking.
> "I can't give them work to do and I feel guilty stopping them from sending their
> children to work for others so they can make some additional money," he said.
> But for Korsah, that responsibility rests first with Ghana's elected officials, not
> the IOM. "The government must first take care of the poverty situation then my
> education campaign to get my people to stop the trafficking will be effective," he
> Kojo Asante, a primary school teacher in Accra takes a harder line approach,
> suggesting a few arrests would send a strong message.
> "We should forget about campaigns through radio and vans [with loudspeakers]," Asante
> said. "We should get one mother and prosecute her, and make sure the case is
> highlighted. Then let's see whether it won't change."
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