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10.10.2005 Regional News

1.2 million children engaged in some form of child labour

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Koforidua, Oct. 10, GNA - More than 1. 2 million Ghanaian children are currently engaged in some form of exploitative or hazardous labour, mostly in such areas as prostitution, drug peddling, stone breaking, domestic work and sand winning. Of the number, over one million are under the age of 13 years and they are part of a growing incidence of internal child trafficking through which process, the victims were exposed to various injuries, toxic substances, sexual abuses and even death.

Mr Emmanuel Otoo, Programme Co-ordinator of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, disclosed this, while addressing a training workshop for officers of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) in Koforidua on Monday. The main objective of the training course, which attracted more than 30 NBSSI staff from the Eastern, Volta and Greater Accra Regions, was to sensitise the participants on how they could help eliminate child labour in the informal sector. According to Mr Otoo, most child-labour related offences in

Ghana were linked to internal trafficking, with the worst forms occurring mostly in rural communities. He conceded that present statistics on the menace could be far below the actual figure, mainly because of the difficulty and complexity in obtaining information from culprits. Mr Otoo was worried about the growing incidence of children being put into hazardous labour, such as going to sea, mining and quarrying, production of chemicals, using minors to operate certain machines and working in bars and other places of entertainment.

He explained that such hazardous work poses great danger, not only to the health, safety and morals of the over 200,000 children currently engaged in them, but that they were also a contributing factor to high crime rates, high adult unemployment and reduction of national productivity.

Presenting a paper on the physical and psychosocial impact of hazardous labour on children, Dr Erica Dickson, a Clinical Psychologist and Physician at the 37 Military Hospital, Accra, was worried that some Ghanaian definitions of who constituted an adult still did not conform to international standards. Relying on this disparity, some unscrupulous individuals in society have tended to inflict physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse on children, she said. What Ghanaian parents ought to do, she suggested, was to give children age-appropriate chores that do not inflict any physical or psychological abuse on them.

According to Dr Dickson, Ghana currently had a total children population of 6.3 million out of which over 1.2 million were engaged in some form of child labour or the other, adding that, over 200,000 of them were presently engaged in hazardous labour. Volta Region, she said, was leading with 33 per cent as the region with most working children, followed by the Western Region with 27 per cent, while the Upper West Region was the region with the least working children.