Fifty-nine parents of rescued children from Kokrobite, Bortianor and Oshiyie in the Greater Accra Region have appealed to the government and non-governmental organisations (NGO) to help release their children from servitude.
The children, who are between the ages of nine and 15, have been sold to fishermen at Yeji, Akosombo and some fishing villages in Nigeria.
At a forum at Kokrobite, organised by the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), in collaboration with Rights and Voice Initiative (RAVI), the parents admitted selling their children as a result of poverty and hardship.
“After visiting my children at Yeji, I have regretted for selling them,” Madam Stella Ansah, a petty trader at Bortianor, lamented.
She said she sent her five children to servitude for a paltry sum of ¢100,000.
“The treatment meted out to my children and others in the village is beyond description. They are given food once a day and it is gari and hot pepper, without fish.
Can you believe that those who sell fish are denied fish? The children at Yeji are even denied clothing and pay. Those who demand their rights can lose their lives,” she alleged.
Madam Anorkor said she managed to bring her children back with difficulty.
“I was arrested for child trafficking but I told the people that the children were mine before they released me. Most of the children have strange skin diseases which have deformed them They also live under dehumanising conditions,” she complained.
The Chief Linguist at Bortianor, Mr Emmanuel Commey, alias Sandy, attributed the selling of children into servitude to the lack of employment opportunities in the community and appealed to the government and NGOs to establish industries to stem the exodus of children to the fishing communities.
Addressing the parents, Ms Joyce Steiner, the Senior Programmes Officer of the CCG, advised them to desist from selling their children for money, saying the future of children should not be endangered by parents, since the children had their right to live decent lives.
Miss Steiner said the CCG would explore the possibility of bringing back the children from servitude and providing school uniforms to encourage them to go to school.
She urged government organisations, NGOs and churches to double their efforts at poverty alleviation, instead of putting up expensive buildings.
She lamented that despite the campaign against child trafficking, some parents still did it. Miss Steiner asked the public to report anybody found engaging in child trafficking.
“Your children are your future breadwinners and you should educate them to take care of you and not to enslave them to become liabilities,” she added.
Story: Timothy Gobah