The United States government says Ghanaian women are being forced into prostitution and forced labour in foreign countries, particularly in the Middle East.
According to the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, Ghanaian women migrating to the Middle East to work are forced into prostitution upon their arrival.
The report attributed the phenomenon to the, emergence of fraudulent recruitment agencies that advertised locally for jobs abroad, generally in the domestic service and retail sectors.
“Ghanaian women and children are recruited and transported to Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, South Africa, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States for forced labour and prostitution,” it said.
The report also revealed that women and girls voluntarily migrating from China, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Benin are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation after arriving in Ghana.
It noted that citizens from other West African countries are subjected to forced labour in Ghana in agriculture or domestic service.
“Ghana is a country of origin, transit, and destination for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking,” it stated.
The report said the trafficking of Ghanaians, particularly children, within the country is more prevalent than the transnational trafficking of foreign migrants.
“Ghanaian boys and girls are subjected to conditions’ of forced labour within the country in fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, portering, artisanal gold mining, and agriculture. Ghanaian girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are subjected to prostitution within Ghana,” it added.
According to the report, child prostitution, and possibly child sex tourism, is prevalent in the Volta Region and is growing in the oil-producing Western Region.
The report said during the reporting period, the government initiated 75 trafficking investigations and secured three convictions and this demonstrates a significant decrease from the previous reporting period, when the government initiated 91 investigations and convicted 29 traffickers.
It noted that all three offenders were convicted for sex trafficking offenses; two received five-year prison sentences and one received a seven-year sentence.
The report indicted the Government of Ghana of not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
The government also drafted a new five-year national action plan and continued to conduct information and education campaigns throughout the country.
At the close of the reporting period, two prosecutions and 42 investigations remained pending.
In October 2012, the Government of Ghana collaborated with the Government of Burkina Faso in an INTERPOL-led operation, which resulted in the rescue of 387 child trafficking victims from various West African nations subjected to forced labour in gold mines and cotton fields in Burkina Faso; the Ghanaian Police sent 16 officers to participate in the operation and assisted in 30 arrests.
During November and December 2012, the government began an operation against sex trafficking in close co-operation with the Government of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP); as a result of this operation, authorities rescued 82 Nigerian and 41 Ghanaian victims and apprehended 10 Nigerian and six Ghanaian suspected trafficking of-fenders.
As a result of these investigative efforts, five prosecutions were completed during the reporting period; one additional case is pending.
The report recommended to government to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, convict and punish trafficking offenders to ensure that the police’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) discharges its duties effectively.