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20.06.2005 Regional News

1.2 million children are abused in Ghana


Ekumfi Eyisam (C/R), June 20, GNA - About 1.2 million children in Ghana are abused in one way or other every year, even though Ghana was among the first countries to sign the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child. Some are sexually abused and neglected by their parents while others are made to do hazardous work in some fishing communities and market centres.

Mr Amaduo Bocoum, Country Director of Plan Ghana, in a statement commended the government for establishing the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs. The speech was read on his behalf at a durbar organized by Plan Ghana at Ekumfi Eyisam to mark this year's Day of the African Child. Mr Bocoum expressed the hope that the Ministry would address issues affecting the welfare of children in the country. He urged the society to discard the notion that, "A child should be seen but not heard," and to allow children to participate in the taking of decisions concerning them.

"Children form about 30 per cent of the population, therefore denying them of the opportunity to let their voices be heard is the greatest injustice, which could be done to them," he stated.

Mr Bocoum said the theme for the Day "Equal treatment for orphans and vulnerable children," was appropriate, adding that, Plan was established in 1937 because of the poor treatment meted to children as a result of the Spanish civil war. He appealed to the government and organisations to use the Day to sensitise people to treat orphans and disadvantaged children with the love and affection that they deserved.

Mr Jacob Turkson, Mankessim Programme Area Manager, said Plan had undertaken project worth billions of cedis in the area to create an enabling condition for the healthy growth of the child. He advised chiefs and opinion leaders to form committees to handle issues concerning child abuse, neglect and other forms of exploitation in their communities.

Mr Robert Quainoo-Arthur, Mfantseman District Chief Executive (DCE) said the government was concerned about the development of the child in a healthy atmosphere that was why it raised the Ministry to Cabinet level. The DCE advised parents to live up to their responsibilities by ensuring that the basic needs of children including education were provided. Mr Quainoo-Arthur advised the children to take their education seriously.

Mr F K Aidoo, Assistant Director of Education in charge of Saltpond Training and Courses Centre of the Ghana Education Service, appealed to the heads of basic schools not to drive away orphans and disadvantaged children for the non payment of fees but to raise funds during school worship and other activities to pay their fees.