Sensitisation workshops have been held for young people in the Kpandai, Nanumba South, and East Gonja Districts to educate them on issues of modern slavery, their right to decent work, and need to seek justice if victimized.
About 150 young people attended the workshops held across the three districts located in the Northern and Savannah Regions.
It was organised by ActionAid Ghana, an international non-governmental organisation, as part of its Combatting Modern Slavery in Ghana project, which is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
The project seeks to enhance the knowledge of individuals and communities on modern slavery practices so they can act to prevent such practices and to eliminate the involvement of child labour and women in agriculture plantations under circumstances of servitude.
Modern slavery refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons through threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payment or benefits for purposes of exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices, removal of organs or other types of exploitation.
A study conducted by International Labour Organisation and Walk Free in 2017 found that 40 million people enslaved today, 21 million forced labour, 15 million forced marriage, four million sexual exploitation, 71% were women and girls, 25% were children, 23% were in Africa, hence the move by ActionAid Ghana to prevent such practices.
Madam Alia Mumuni, a Programme Officer at the Northern Region Programme of ActionAid Ghana, who spoke during the workshops in the three Districts, said the awareness raising programme for the young people was to enable them to resist being recruited under circumstances of exploitation of their labour and violation of their rights, and also protect other community members and children from being exploited by fraudulent agribusinesses and individuals.
Madam Mumuni said it was also to ensure that participants were better informed to seek justice under circumstances of being exploited and or rights being violated.
Participants, having gained some knowledge on the concept of modern slavery, shared real stories of personal experiences and those of other community members, who were deceived and in some cases forced into modern slavery.
Some of the experiences they shared included young men travelling to the southern part of the country, and some neighbouring countries to work as farm labourers.
According to them, those young people went and worked a whole year in plantations and large farms, and were compensated with old motorbikes while some returned home without anything for the reason that the farm owners refused to pay them because they fell sick in some of the months.
Bignanlib Cephas, a participant from the Nanumba South District, shared what he learnt during the workshop saying, “I had a different opinion about modern slavery when I was coming. Today, I learnt a lot of things about modern slavery. Modern slavery is not about people coming to buy people and trafficking them to different places. Even today, slavery lives in our homes and workplaces. So, today, I know what modern slavery is all about, and I will also educate people in my community about it.”
Ayisha Muntaka, another participant from the Nanumba South District, also shared her experience after the workshop saying “I did not know anything about modern slavery when I was coming for the workshop. The workshop has helped me to understand what modern slavery is all about. I realise that forced marriage, forced labour, human trafficking is modern slavery. So, when I get back to my community, I will educate my colleagues about it.”
Participants, after the workshops, developed communiques and presented them to the three Districts expressing “Deep worry about the violation of young people’s right to decent work, especially in the agricultural sector where the use of child labour including the worst forms of child labour is rampant, trafficking of young people out of the Districts to engage in indecent work in plantation, unfair contract farming practices leading to debt bondage and forced labour amongst others.”