Hon Betty Nana Efua Krosbi Mensah, Member of Parliament (MP) for Afram Plains North has lashed out at recent CNN reports about alleged child slavery on the Volta Lake within the constituency.
The MP also stroked back at some Western Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) about forced child labor in its heavily fishing Island communities.
She described the western media stories and the NGOs actions as ‘malicious attack that severely distorts the fact,’ stressing that, it goes totally against the professional ethics of journalism.
The US based media outlet, CNN on March 1, 2019, aired a video report titled, “Freeing the child slaves of Lake Volta.” The documentary was rebroadcasted and published by several other media platforms alleging the existence of pervasive child trafficking and child slavery in fishing communities along the Volta Lake.
But in a Statement on the floor of Ghana’s Parliament, Wednesday April 3, Hon Betty Krosbi, who is a member on Gender and Children Committee of the august House said, the CNN report was complete misrepresentation and distortion of facts contrary to the real situation among the fisher folks.
She argued that, there was no such inhuman services among the people that she represented in parliament and that CNN and their cohost of NGOs, failed to do a proper research to abreast themselves with the real condition of the people and their means of survival.
“Mr. Speaker, the allegations of child trafficking and child slavery, which are mostly made by Western-based NGOs and funded journalists with the help of local affiliates, reflects a limited understanding of the lived realities on islands and communities along the lake. Fishing is one of the few guaranteed avenues of subsistence for islanders and residents of communities along the Lake Volta, and children are rightly taught fishing skills by their parents. While I recognize there can be excesses, we cannot box up everything to give a false representation just to boost funding potentials,” Hon Krosbi stated.
Though not denying the fact that there exist of child abuse in the system by persons who are at times not biological parents, Hon Betty said there was no such rampant sale or trafficking of children in Afram Plains as the CNN and others sought to paint the picture on the constituency.
She averred that, the extended family system in Africa is still highly valued in Ghana as it remains integral to the social welfare system, adding that, it was normal to find children living with non-biological parents or guardians who could offer them educational, apprenticeship and other developmental opportunities.
The MP said, despite the fact that there is endemic poverty among the people, it was never the case that it would force them to enslave their children or sell them in exchange of anything.
Instead, Betty said, the people in these communities are rather in need of supports in terms of education, health and other social amenities that would raise their living standard to meet the United Nation poverty reduction level.
She added, “Mr. Speaker, a conspicuously ignored aspect of this practice in the CNN and other reportage of this issue is that many children and youth become self-sufficient fishermen in adulthood through these arrangements and, in turn, also train other children and youth. This form of fosterage and tutelage can be fraught with complications, particularly surrounding the mode of remuneration for child apprentices.”
The Afram PlainsNorth lawmaker therefore called on colleague MPs to join her in the fight against the Western media framing and negative narrative on the sources living of some people in the country and the Africa continent vis-a-vis the culture and tradition.
Other MPs including Dr Clement Apaak, MP for Builsa South, Dr Oko Boye MP forLedzokuku and Madam Abena Durowaa Mensah, MP Assin North, who contributed to the statement debunked the CNN report and said, the Western media are either mischievous or uneducated as force labour and slavery are not synonymous.
Dr Apaak said, Child Labour as the International Labour Organization defined it, ” refers to any work or activity that deprives children of their childhood, while slavery is basically unlawfully taking ownership of a child and forced the child to activities that are detrimental to the physical and mental health or to hinder their proper development.
Dr Bernard Oko Boye, said every African and for that Ghanaian, especially those who grew up from deprived communities and families have once gone through all sort of domestics work of which, “we learnt on to survive and today we are impacting same on our children and the society.”
In her contribution, Ms Abena Mensah said, the laws of Ghana do not support any for work that would have physical and mental effect on child under 18 and found the western media reportage misleading.
She argued that, the ILO is very explicit without ambiguity on certain activities that are not considered labour or exploitation and these activities are simply those involve helping parents to complete everyday family chores, to which children could dedicate a few hours to do and are not considered child exploitation.
Before referring the statement to the Gender and Children Committee of Parliament, the Speaker of Parliament ProfAaron Mike Oquaye said, what the Ghanaian child needs is educational support and that if the western media and their NGOs are willing they should contribute to the free senior high school policy, adding,” if you cannot contribute then stop it, period.”
The Speaker explained that there is a complete difference between force labour and slavery and that the two could not be use interchangeably and called the media, especially the western media to get educated on the situation.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba