Broken homes, poverty and psycho-social challenges of parenting adolescents in a rapidly changing urban environment were key drivers of commercial sexual exploitation in low income, highly populated communities, a report has said.
According to a Mid-term Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, conducted by International Needs Ghana (INGH), a non-governmental organization, in 13 communities in Accra, children from broken homes topped the list with 51 per cent.
The communities are Osu, La, Nima, Maamobi, Accra New Town/Mallam Atta, Bubuashie, James Town, Korle Gonno, Korle Woko, Chorkor, Agbogbloshie, Timber Market, and Madina, all in the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Cromwell Awadey, a Research Officer of INGH, who presented the report on Tuesday at a National Stakeholders Dissemination Meeting in Accra, said the project adopted a blend of participatory and rights-based approaches to promote the rights of children, build their capacity and empower parents and caregivers.
He said the three-year project, which aimed at contributing to the elimination of child labour in the country, was being funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), New Zealand.
The MFAT project, which comprises James Town, Korle Gonno, Korle Woko, Chorkor, Agbogbloshie/Timber Market and Madina, started in April 2011 and would end in March 2014 while the AusAID project spans July 2011 to June 2014.
He said at the end of the project, the INGH hoped to withdraw 1,000 children in Accra from engaging in commercial sexual exploitation, rehabilitate them and re-integrate them into their families and society at large.
“We also hope to empower economically 400 parents/caregivers of victims of those at risk,” he added.
Mr Awadey said most of the victims in the project areas were mainly children from poor homes, those living with the extended families or single parents, abused, neglected and abandoned children, school drop outs and young migrants without employable skills.
The report showed that about 32 per cent of the children were not born in Accra but rather migrated from elsewhere; 24 per cent migrated to go and live with relatives in Accra; 37 per cent migrated with non-biological parents; five percent migrated with non-relatives.
“Children living within the aforementioned challenging background were highly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation as they are exploited by a wide variety of people including parents, caregivers and opportunists.
“Some needy parents sent their daughters out to solicit for sex or receive money from men in return for sex to help take care of the household. In some cases, the mothers were prostitutes and were either too busy sleeping with men to have time for their daughters or ended up roping their daughters into the sex trade,’’ he added.
Mr Dela Afenyadu, Chief Executive, KEADS Development Services, said psychological tension between poverty and a sophisticated modern urban environment was a determining factor as girls, from poor or rich homes, allowed themselves to be carried away by the attractions of these environments.
He said the report also found that broken homes had overtaken poverty as a major problem of the country, and stressed the need for churches and the mosques to come in to salvage the situation.