Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba, has challenged Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and officers at the Social Welfare Department to take legal action against parents who compel their children to engage in all forms of child labour.
The Minister, who expressed her displeasure about how some parents send out children below the ages of 18 years to sell on highways, work on their farms while others give out their children as house helps, described their acts as “criminal, wicked and cruel.”
According to a recent survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service, over two million children in Ghana are engaged in child labour across various sectors including mining, fishing, farming, cattle herding, stone quarrying, construction and hawking, a situation the Gender Ministry says is worrying and alarming.
Speaking at Suhum Okonam at the official launching of the second phase of the National Plan of Action to fight child labour on the theme “Developing the child for a brighter future, kick child labour away from Ghana”, Madam Otiko Djaba promised that her Ministry will work in collaboration with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and other stakeholders, to end crimes against children in the country.
“Every work that stresses children, work that prevents children from attending school and work which causes harm to our children constitutes child labour. Laws in Ghana like the Children’s Act and constitution frown on child labour, medical doctors do not take their children to work, teachers do not take their children to classrooms also, so why should a farmer take his children to the farm or traders also allow their kids to go and sell on the streets.”
“Why would parents subject their children to this treatment by engaging kids to work on farms, sell on the streets and even work as maidservants for money, this is cheap labour and parents who are involved are wicked. The children did not ask to be born, they did nothing wrong to come into this world, so why such treatment on them. District Chief Executives, social welfare department and other agencies should rise up to the task now. We should not just talk, but walk the talk, and bring culprits to book because the kids involved in child labour are prone to child trafficking and prostitution.”
The Minister also called on parents to take advantage of the compulsory free education policies by government to enroll their children in schools for them to attain knowledge, experience, and contribute their quota to the development of the country in the future.
“Parents, I’m pleading with you to allow your children to go to school, we have gone past those ancient times. In the 21st century now, let us not do the things we were doing previously because now thanks to government, education is free in the country from primary to Senior High School, so no child should be left uneducated. The laws of the land are clear, you cannot say you are ignorant, so I will advise parents to take advantage of the free compulsory education made available to all Ghanaians to educate their kids for they are the future leaders of the country”.