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Modern Day Slavery Five Ghana industries where forced labour is rife

Cocoa farming, mining, fishing, domestic work and prostitution have all been named as using forced labour in Ghana.

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play Cocoa farming, mining, fishing, domestic work and prostitution have all been named as using forced labour in Ghana. (Friends of the Nation Ghana )

Five of the country’s leading industries have been cited as leaders in the use of forced labour.

The industries are cocoa farming, mining, fishing, domestic work and prostitution. This revelation was made by Fred Odisho, political officer at the US Embassy in Ghana at an event to end modern day slavery.

In 2015, the US government criticised the country for “not fully [complying] with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” in the Trafficking in Persons report.

In all of these sectors, workers are “unable to negotiate salary, working hours, general working conditions and unable to change employers,” Odisho said.

Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world and the continuous use of children on farms is a worrying development not just for the Ghana government but for chocolate manufacturers such as Nestlé who have been working over the years to eliminate forced labour on farms in their supply chain.  

In a recent study by Tulane University, in the USA,  in collaboration with Ghana’s Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), 2.12 million children were involved in work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

According to the International Labour Organization, 49,000 children are engaged in fishing on the Lake Volta alone and half of that number are believed to be working in “hazardous” conditions. In fishing communities along the coast, children are commonly sighted working on canoes and small boats.

For domestic work, the extended family system has been implicated as the main cause. It is very common in the local setup for children to be sent to live with wealthier relatives such as aunties and uncles  where they are abused.

While the extended family system has been praised for its contributions to social welfare, it has been tasked to work at combating abuse.

Although prostitution is not recognised as a legal trade in Ghana, the police occasionally raid brothels to rescue mostly young women.

In 2008, investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas exposed the horrible situation at a popular brothel in Accra where girls as young as 14 had been recruited. 

While human trafficking within Ghana is more prevalent than that across the borders, according to the US government’s report, Ghanaians who have been trafficked find themselves in a similar industries in countries such as the Ivory Coast, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The story of a young Ghanaian girl who was maltreated by her host family while working in Kuwait made rounds in the news last year.

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