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09.03.2006 General News

Majority of children work on parents' cocoa farms

By GNA

Sekondi, March 09, GNA - A research into children's involvement in cocoa farming activities has revealed that 72 per cent of children worked on their parents' farms.

Eleven per cent worked on other people's farms as farm hands or "day by day" workers.

These were disclosed by Ms Florence Ayisi Annor, of the Research Unit of the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) at a day's Dialogue on Violence Against Children at Sekondi on Thursday. The research conducted in the Western, Central, Brong Ahafo and Eastern regions interviewed 600 children, 400 farm owners and 600 adult opinion leaders.

In the Western region, the research team focused on Sefwi Wiawso and Amenfi East.

Ms Annor said most of the children were assigned light duties on the cocoa farms and these included weeding, picking and breaking of pods, fetching water, carrying beans home for drying and watering of seedlings.

She said 62.3 per cent of the children engaged in cocoa farms attended primary school while 24.2 per cent were in the Junior Secondary School.

Ms Annor said most of the children accompanied their parents to the farm on Saturdays, Sundays, vacations, and other public holidays, and this did not prevent them from pursuing their education.

She explained that poverty, high cost of labour and the socialisation process contributed to the involvement of children in farms adding that some children were also brought from the northern parts of the country to work on some cocoa farms during the harvesting season.

Ms Annor said there was however, lack of awareness of children's rights issues at the community level and 91 per cent of adults did not know anything about child labour laws.

She said to reverse the trend, there must be an intensified campaign of activities to sensitise families, communities, District Assemblies and other civil society organizations to allow children to have more time for their studies by reducing the hours spent in doing farm work.

Mr Sylvester Kyei-Gyamfi also with the research unit of the GNCC said child domestic workers might have to endure direct physical abuse, by being beaten continually to ensure their submission or punished when they were found to be slow and un-cooperative or when they made mistakes in their work.

They were subjected to many forms of torture and women were usually guilty of this crime against the child.

"In addition, young girls working as domestic help are particularly exposed to acts of violence and sexual abuse from their employers or relatives who live or spend time in the house," He added. Mr Kyei-Gyamfi said because the girls were afraid of being dismissed, they were compelled to yield to the advances of their employers and this usually resulted in physical, psychological and emotional trauma.

He said consequences of such acts were irreversible and sometimes fatal and those who were able to run away end up on the street. Ms Joana Mensah, Western Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare said raped and defiled children were traumatised and they lived with the effects all their lives.

She said the refusal of some parents to provide for the upkeep of their children was another form of violence that must be checked. Ms Mensah said chiefs should educate their subjects on the effects of domestic violence and violence against children while teachers should encourage their pupils to develop their potentials and report any abuses to the appropriate agencies. 09 March 06

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