I am Patrick Kalonji Kadima, Congolese born in 1990. I have five sisters and one brother. Of my parents, only my father is still alive. I grew up in Kinshasa but migrated with my family in South Africa and in Lesotho. I did part of my secondary education in DR Congo and then in South Africa. I joined the Missionaries of Africa few years ago. I am currently doing my pastoral apostolic training years in St. Monica Parish, Nyankpala, within the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tamale in Ghana.
Human trafficking in Ghana!
On Friday 29th September 2017, the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in Tamale gathered at the provincial house for a talk on human trafficking. The talk was given as part of our ongoing preparations towards the celebration of the 150th anniversary of our foundation (1868/69 – 2018/19). One will remember that from the 11th November 2012 to the 8th September 2013 the two institutes of our Lavigerie family celebrated the 125th Anniversary of the Anti-Slavery Campaign of our founder Cardinal Lavigerie. This celebration paved the way for the campaign against human trafficking which is one of the forms of modern slavery that our mother land, Africa, faces daily. The fight against human trafficking is part and parcel of our commitment to Justice & Peace and Encounter-Dialogue (JPIC-ED) which the Ghana-Nigeria Link has called us to share upon. It is following that call that I propose the few lines underscoring the talk we had at the provincial house on human trafficking.
Father Clement Wie Tuureh, M.Afr, gave us an introduction for the reason of our gathering. This short introduction allowed the presenter, Mr. Abdulai Danaah, the Executive Director of the Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking (CIAHT), to begin his talk under the topic: ‘What is Human Trafficking, the Causes and Effects and Strategies Action Plans to End Human Trafficking in the Northern Region of the Republic of Ghana.’
It was discovered during the talk that most people are unaware or unconscious of such a reality called human trafficking. This is simply due to the lack of knowledge of what is involved in human trafficking.
Accordingly, the speaker gave us this definition: “The United Nations has defined human trafficking as “the recruitment, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by threat or use of force.” He, furthermore, argued: “Similarly, the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 describes severe forms of trafficking as: (a) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or (b) the recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labour or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery”; similar practices being the removal of organs. With the above, the presenter made us aware on how to confirm if a situation can be called human trafficking, one has to consider all the elements that make the situation to be called “human trafficking”.
Elements of Human Trafficking
The elements of human trafficking are: the act, the means and the purpose. First, concerning the act, the presenter made us understand that it is about ‘what is done’, meaning to say, is it recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons? And when it comes to the means, we have to bear in mind ‘how it is done’, meaning to say, is it a threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or making payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim. Then last, concerning the purpose we looked at ‘why it is done’, meaning to say, is it for the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.
Those who were present soon realised that they have encountered situations related to human trafficking where they live here in Ghana.
Human Trafficking in Ghana
In his presentation, the presenter mentioned to us that globally speaking 600 thousand to four million people are being trafficked and the majority in this estimation are women and children.
The presenter informed us that Ghana as a country is faced with the challenges of human trafficking; men, women, and children are subject to trafficking mostly in forced labour and sex trafficking.
It was clear in the speaker’s presentation that most people within the country in Ghana do not have the knowledge of human trafficking; and misunderstand the move of human trafficking to migration of one local area to another. Therefore, Ghanaian girls and young adults who move around in search of work from one rural area to another or from one rural to an urban area or community are easily exposed to traffickers.
Another way, in which Ghana is faced with this evil of human trafficking, is that, Ghana has become to some degree a target point for traffickers. Girls are been sent to Europe, America and some other African countries with the hope to have domestic jobs but later they are being brained-washed deceived into forced labour, some work and receive unfair wages, others are abused or forced into prostitution.
Invitation to Campaign Against Human Trafficking
In his invitation to fight human trafficking, the presenter reminded us to be careful as religious and moral figures on how to proceed to fight this evil in the various communities where we live or do our apostolate. In as much as we may wish to reduce or getting rid of this evil by conducting public awareness and informing the public. The traffickers are studying our movements. They are establishing networks and developing new systems to their favours. Again the presenter informed us that the government of Ghana have not yet enforced the law as such that will bring traffickers to justice in most of the cases and protect the victims. Another obstacle that may come our way as we fight human trafficking is that the victims themselves in most cases are not aware that they are being trafficked.
At the end of this talk, I remembered vividly how in 2014 I took part in a play we produced as students of philosophy in Balaka, Malawi, to bring awareness to the public (in schools, parishes and at a conference) on the issues of slavery and human trafficking. It is my prayer and hope that more of these events be encouraged. I wish to invite all of us to be creative and continue participating in the campaign to fight against all forms of modern slavery. “Let us break the chains!”