Human trafficking in Ghana!


NyankpalaBy Patrick Kalonji Kadima, Stagiaire in Nyankpala, Ghana.

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.

Clement Wie Tuureh copieFather 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.’

Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking (CIAHT)What Is Human Trafficking?

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!

Human tra Malawi 01

JPIC Commission, USG-UISG, Rome, Italy


JPIC Commission, USG-UISG, Rome, Italy LOGO WebThe JPIC Commission promotes and supports the integration of JUSTICE, PEACE & INTEGRITY OF CREATION (JPIC) in the life and mission of the Union of Superior Generals (USG) and the International Union of Superior Generals (UISG) and their member congregations.  It is responsible for animating men and women religious in justice, peace and integrity of creation according to the vows of the evangelical life, through experience, social analysis, spiritual reflection and action.

Our website offers a wide-range of information and resources on justice, peace and integrity of creation. It also serves as a forum for interaction among JPIC Promoters on issues and concerns regarding their ministry, and features a calendar of JPIC Commission events that you can link to your personal calendar. Bookmark http://www.jpicroma.org on your browser and make it a favorite site to visit. 

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Members of the USG and the UISG

All members of the USG and the UISG are invited to designate a JPIC Promoter for their respective congregation/institute to animate their membership in integrating justice, peace and integrity of creation into their spiritual and ministerial lives as men and women religious. A JPIC Promoter is responsible for helping each person and community to identify his/her own particular way of living and promoting JPIC values. The animation of JPIC consists of four elements: experience, social analysis, theological reflection/scripture/charism and action.

In particular, a JPIC Promoter is charged with the following: Remind congregational membership that evangelization and mission, without a JPIC perspective, cannot be authentic. (Cf. The Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, 1971); uphold the spirituality of JPIC; animate members in the JPIC values; and develop a framework to help develop the JPIC dimension of Christian spirituality.

JPIC Commission, USG-UISG, Rome, Italy LOGO and data

Africa: Religious Sisters Posing As Prostitutes to Save Sex Slaves Eye Expansion


Thomson Reuters Foundation

Africa: Religious Sisters Posing As Prostitutes to Save Sex Slaves Eye Expansion

By Ellen Wulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation (London) | London, 18 November 2015

An army of religious sisters who rescue victims of human trafficking by posing as prostitutes to infiltrate brothels and buying children being sold into slavery, is expanding to 140 countries, its chairman said on Wednesday.

John Studzinski, an investment banker and philanthropist who chairs Talitha Kum, said the network of 1,100 sisters currently operates in about 80 countries but the demand for efforts to combat trafficking and slavery was rising globally.

The group, set up in 2004, estimates one percent of the world’s population is trafficked in some form, which translates into some 73 million people. Of those, 70 percent are women and half are aged 16 or younger.

Thomson Reuters Foundation (London) chair“I’m not trying to be sensational but I’m trying to underscore the fact this is a world that has lost innocence … where dark forces are active,” said Studzinski, a vice chairman of U.S. investment bank The Blackstone Group.

“These are problems caused by poverty and equality but it goes well beyond that,” he told the Trust Women Conference on women’s rights and trafficking hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Detailing some cases involving trafficking and slavery, Studzinski said the treatment of some victims was horrific.

He told of one woman enslaved as a prostitute who was locked up for a week without food, forced to eat own her faeces, when she failed to have sex with a target of 12 clients a day.

In another extreme case, one woman was forced to have sex with a group of 10 men at the same time.

Studzinski said the religious sisters working to combat trafficking would go to all lengths to rescue women, often dressing up as prostitutes and going out on the street to integrate themselves into brothels.

“These sisters do not trust anyone. They do not trust governments, they do not trust corporations, and they don’t trust the local police. In some cases they cannot trust male clergy,” he said, adding that the low-key group preferred to focus on their rescue work rather than promotion.

“They work in brothels. No one knows they are there.”

The sisters were also proactive on trying to save children being sold into slavery by their parents, setting up a network of homes in Africa as well as in the Philippines, Brazil and India to shelter such children.

He said the religious sisters of Talitha Kum raised money to purchase these children.

“This is a new network of houses for children around the world who would otherwise be sold into slavery. It is shocking but it is real,” he said.

Studzinski said the network of religious sisters, that was in the process of expanding, also targeted slavery in the supply chain with sisters shedding their habits and working alongside locals for as little as 2 U.S. cents an hour to uncover abuses.

He said Talitha Kum, which translated from Aramaic means arise child, was now being hired by companies to see what is going on with respect to the supply chain and expanding globally would help address this issue.

“You can’t generalize about trafficking and slavery as no two countries are the same,” Studzinski said.

Trafficking in Human Beings, Particularly Women and Children at the Border of Mozambique and South Africa


Jean-Pierre Le ScourBy Jean-Pierre Le Scour, October 2015. Six months’ progress report on the Moçamibique / RSA Border.

THE BORDER

As you may know, the control of the 68 kms border between Ressano-Garcia and Mbuzini has been given to the South African Defence Force who this replaced the South African Police Forces. These soldiers are based in Macadamia Camp near Naas (Kwa Maquekeza) where most of the people trafficked from Moçambique pass through the local taxi rank.  It would be easy to control and check this place and block the traffickers and their taxis … but is there a will from the competent authorities to do so?

Ressano-GarciaThrough the Border Post of Ressano-Garcia an average of 800 men, 300 women and 10 children cross illegally every month. What was reported to me, and verified visually, is that women pass very often with very young babies, sometimes only a few months old, and young children who are not their own. Children have been seen running away but they are coerced (forced) into crossing the Border. Since 1 September 2015, new Border crossing regulations allow only the children to cross the Border with both parents and an original birth certificate.

Trafficking or smuggling people has become a business at the Border. On the Moçambican side, you have the “Gatunos” a semi-organised group of youngsters, the “Community Police” with a red arm band, local police and Border Guards. From RSA, the “Matsinyane” taxi operators from Naas, SADF and “Ninjas”. All these people are looking for money. If you do not pay, you are beaten up, robbed and might land up in a police station at Ressano-Garcia or Komatipoort. If you pay your way, you pass without any problem even without travel documents. If the “traveller” resists his little money, possessions and always cell phones are taken away from him by violent means.

The month of September has been marked by an increase in the number of children disappearing, age range between 8 and 14 years. One of them was able to fight off the aggressor but was hit with a broken bottle in the race and received 8 stitches. I have organised a workshop in all the schools about the dangers of living in a small border town and given a course in self-defence to a few volunteers.

Forced repatriation from South Africa to Moçambique continues unabated with an erratic time-table which makes it difficult to organise basic help to these returnees. One of the biggest repatriations was on 15 May 2015 with about 500 persons on board a train. Subsequently, the authorities seem to prefer to use busses. Two or three times a month up to 10 busses cross the Borders without stopping and dump their “human load” at the Border Guards’ barracks where they are being lectured on what will happen to them if they ever try to cross to South Africa again. Then they are told to go … every time at the railway station or at the barracks of the Border Guards it is discovered that a few of these returnees are not Moçambican at all.

MEETINGS

Regular meetings are organised at the Border with the “Commisāo Mixta”:  it regroups border guards from both countries, police, immigration, ONG, Catholic Church. This meeting reports on cases of trafficking, border violations, mistreatment of repatriated people and manner of repatriation. At the last meeting at the end of August we were informed of the new Regulations concerning the crossing of minor children (under 18 years of age).

Following my latest reports, good contacts have been established with the CTIPC (Counter Trafficking In Persons Office). A meeting has been set down for 10:30 on the 5 October 2015 at Khanya House to meet with a delegation from the Vatican. Workshops are being conducted in the Nkomazi District as well as in Moçambique.

TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN FOR ORGAN REMOVAL

The sale of human organs from Moçambique to South Africa continues and with the increase of children disappearing, it is a very worrying trend. A few years ago, a Brazilian Sister (Doraci Edinger, 53, a Sister of the Servants of Mary Immaculate) was murdered in Nampula for denouncing that practice. On 8 September 2015, an albino child was sold by his parents in Nampula – cases that surface are only the tip of the iceberg. A friend of mine, who works at Customs, told me that he intercepted, at the Border, a man who was carrying a bottle full of human genitals. Since the economic situation is very precarious and two-thirds of the country are affected by drought, we are likely to see an increase in the trafficking of young children for any purpose but mostly economical. We can as well question the demand for “muti” (remedies) with a component of body parts, mostly from albinos. Government ONG and Churches should be able to embark on a campaign to destroy these false beliefs. If they do it about the rhinoceros horns, they could do it as well in order to save fellow human beings.

ACTIONS TAKEN

Poster campaign for young girls who want out of the system and to warn them about the risk of being trafficked.

– More than 2000 (Africa Unite – say no to xenophobia – Prayer for Peace) tokens have been distributed everywhere: Border post, schools, administration, Parishes. Thanks to Michel Meunier, M.Afr

– Two places of safety continue to work both sides of the Border.

– Parents’ meetings are organised at various schools to ask them to care more for their children, tell them not to accept lifts or sweets from strangers, not to walk to and from school alone.

– The “CommisāoMixta” demands the application of the law in South Africa to punish severely trafficking in human beings and recommends net-working between Moçambique and South Africa between organisations concerned, Churches and Government instances.

– One member of the “CommisāoMixta” repatriates regularly, to their country of origin, girls who have been trafficked and children who have been abducted.

– The “Escola Esperança” in Ressano-Garcia is welcoming underprivileged children, orphans and children with difficulties without distinction of race, creed and gender – Christian and Muslim children learn to live in peace and harmony.

– A place at the Komatipoort Airfield has been identified as a stop-over for truckers. The manager of the land distribution office is in favour. It would be a take-away restaurant with an ablution block where activists could work on the truck drivers. We now wait for financing and personnel through the CTIP.

CONCLUSION

All these activities are but a drop in the ocean, but the writer takes the greatest encouragement from our leader, Pope Francisco, who puts the plea of the migrants and the trafficked people at the centre of our Pastoral duties, and shows by his action and words how much he cares. And official of IOM has underlined in his own words the urgency of this Pastoral care: “The most hidden aspect of this trade in bodies, regardless of origin or gender or purpose of the trade, is that within these bodies, reside human beings with hopes, dreams emotions and ambitions – and even a sense of justice; justice which so often eludes them with it matters most”. 

Read the translation into Spanish: El infame tráfico de seres humanos entre Mozambique y Sudáfrica

PDF file: Trafficking in Human Beings, Particularly Women and Children at the Border of Mozambique and South Africa