MP refutes CNN documentary on child slavery

Accra- Ms Betty Krobi Mensah, Member of Parliament (MP) for Afram Plains North has describe as unfortunate a CNN documentary which sought to give a wrong impression that there is child slavery on the Volta lake.

According to her the story being circulated on YouTube does not represent the actual situation in Ghana and activities on the Volta Lake.

Ms Mensah speaking to the media in parliament about the matter stated that as MP for Afram Plains North with over 60 percent of the people living on and around the Volta Lake it was important to correct the negative impression being portrayed by the documentary.

She expressed the belief that it is only when the actual fact is brought to bear that the people would be able to prescribe the right solution to the problem.

She explained that in Ghana, children often live in closely connected families where members of the extended family participate in their upbringing.

Ms Mensah also clarified that children are sent to family members who are well to do with the hope of offering them better education and others are also placed under apprenticeship to learn a trade such as fishing, carpentry among others.

She explained that in some situations children who find themselves with wicked guardians are abused.

I want to emphatically state that no parent in Ghana deliberately trades off their children for money. The many alleged cases of child slavery/trafficking on the Volta Lake are actually cases of child labour.

Ms Mensah stated that in 2017, a total of 144 children were rescued on the Volta Lake by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in collaboration with the International Justice Mission, an NGO and the Ghana Police Service.

She said investigations later revealed that there were only four cases of children who had been trafficked out of the 144 rescued out of which two were non-Ghanaians.

She said the government of Ghana over the years have undertaken a number of social intervention programmes such as free basic compulsory education, free school uniforms, school feeding programme, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) to curb this menace of child abuse and child labour in the communities.

However, these interventions have failed in achieving its ultimate purpose of addressing poverty due to the politicization of these programmes, wrong targeting, lack of resources and commitment by stakeholders.

Ms Mensah further stated that regrettably, some NGOs exploit these unfortunate situations to enrich themselves by parading poor children who are living with their parents and relatives as children in bondage to solicit for financial benefits from international organizations.

She indicated that these NGOs paint a bleak picture of the situation just to satisfy their parochial interest.

She said the good news is that a number of MPs from affected communities with this menace have come together with the support of the Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye and some benevolent organisations such as International Justice Mission to support in the sensitization of the people to understand the basic rights of children and to draw government’s attention to the plight of the people.

We are very optimistic that with the right attention given to this unfortunate situation, the case of child labour/abuse and trafficking in Ghana will become minimal she said.

Source: Ghana News Agency