Thursday, January 24, 2008

‘Red Card’ to Trafficking of Women and Children

‘Red Card’ to Trafficking of Women and Children

Daily Graphic, Thursday, January 24, 2008. Page 17 (Women’s World)

Naa Lartiokor Lartey

International sporting events have become fertile ground for human trafficking and sexual exploitation. This is in view of the fact that some women and girls find themselves among the large number of visitors who travel to countries where such events are held, become victims of the forced sex trade while others may be lured by false promises of lucrative temporary work or abducted from their countries.

Documented patterns of flagrant trafficking of children and women for prostitution during the 2006 World Cup tournament in Germany, as well as reported increase in recruitment of children for prostitution in South Africa in the 2010 World Cup, create a dire picture.

It is for this reason that before the commencement of the ongoing Ghana 2008 tournament, a number of individuals, organisations and human rights groups warned that sporting events should not become a major factor for anti-social vices, such as human trafficking and commercial sex activities.

The call seems not to have made the desired impact following media reports that activities of prostitutes, including children below 18 years, have intensified and brothels, drinking spots, tourist attraction sites and part of host cities have become breeding grounds for prostitution and sexual abuse of children.

An effective awareness campaign is a primary component of addressing human trafficking during international sporting events and Ghana has launched similar campaign dubbed, “Red Card to Trafficking of Women and Children during Ghana 2008,” in Accra.

The “red card” can be seen as a centrepiece of any awareness campaign for international football tournament, as it is both attractive and useful to football fans. The simple message, “Red Card to Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation,” sends a clear message that could be easily misunderstood by the vast majority of participating countries, including hosts and visitors, as it will be stated in both English and French.

The front part of the card is red and associated with the reds cards given to players who severely violate the rules of the game and are disqualified from further participation. The back is yellow, which stands as a warning and will have the complete schedule of Ghana 2008 on it.

The “red card” will serve multiple purposes to all and will remand everybody that sexual exploitation of women and children has no place in Ghana 2008. The card can be used throughout the games for participants to constructively indicate to referees when they feel that a red or yellow card should be or was appropriately given to a player and it will be kept as a souvenir of the games and as a continuous reminder of the issue.

A similar awareness camping was carried out successfully in Germany during the 2006 World Cup, and other football events.

One ways of distributing the “red cards” is adding it to every ticket purchased or handing them out at the gates of the stadia as spectators enter them.

Speaking at the launch of “Red Card” against trafficking, the Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Mrs. Angelina Baiden-Amissah, said the government was actively implementing the Human Trafficking Act (Act 694) 2005 and would hesitate to punish all those who indulge in human trafficking. She stressed that the issue of both internal and cross-border trafficking would not be taken lightly during the Ghana 2008 event and beyond. She said though Ghana was considered a source, transit and destination of victims of trafficking, the perpetrators would be dealt with by the laws of the nations.

Touching on the response dot the government to the challenges of women and child trafficking, she mentioned the ratification of the West African multilateral agreement on Women and Children (Abidjan 2005) and the International Labour Organisation Convention No.182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in June 2003.

Others include the launch of a 5-year time bound programme to eliminate the worst form of child labour and the passage of the Domestic Violence Bill in to an act in February 2007.

The Programmes Officer of Enslavement Prevention Alliance-West Africa, Mr Moses Kanduri, said if strong preventive measures were not put in place prior to and during Ghana 2008, the resources of the government and NGOs might not be sufficient to cope with the pos-event consequences of human trafficking. According to him, the rise in HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) levels is a correlating factor to international sporting events, especially when nationals from higher prevalence areas attend such events in large numbers.

The National Programme Co-ordinator of the International Labour Organisation, Mr Matthew Dally, said apart from drugs and arms, human trafficking was the next lucrative job world-wide and appealed to the law enforcement bodies to enforce the law against human trafficking to its fullest during the Ghana 2008 and beyond.

He said 1.2 million children are trafficked annually world-wide and between 200, 000 and 800,000 are in West Africa. He described the act as a modern day slavery where children were being bought like a commodity and resold to others.

He said there was need for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the rescue and prevention of child trafficking to strengthen and co-ordinate their activities to avoid duplication. He also called for regular training for the judiciary on human trafficking in order to enhance their knowledge on the subject to enable them to help to stop the offence.

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