The Ghana-Kuwait human trafficking trade

prostitutionAkosua Frempomaa (not her real name), a 32-year- old graduate of cosmetology, fell for an online advertisement, which requested for a two-year service of applicants to pursue a career in Kuwait, Middle East.

Having passed out in one of the leading tertiary institutions in Kumasi, she had strong ambition of opening her own ultra-modern salon and hospitality facility.

As an unemployed graduate, she needed a start-up capital to realise her aspiration and so to her the Kuwait offer was heavenly-sent.

Unknown to her, the advertisement was a ploy put up by a syndicate with the sadistic intent to traffic unsuspecting victims from Ghana to Kuwait to serve as “Kadama”, a local term used for a slave.

A Kadama is made to do household chores from as early as 0300 hours for hours unending, leaving the victim with barely an hour’s rest from the nerve breaking ache and pain of scrubbing, washing, cleaning and cooking all day.

The advertisement promised that successful applicants would receive a yearly income of $8000, a fully-furnished house and an opportunity to do other jobs on part-time basis.

Frempomaa who was initially skeptical about the offer was persuaded by the manner the local agent facilitated the acquisition of a new biometric passport, visa, ticket and medical screening for her school mate Cynthia Fredua. Cynthia travelled safely to Kuwait and frequently made telephone calls to Frempomaa telling her how well life was treating her.

Frempomaa did not hesitate to pay GH¢1,300 to Salamatu Imbeah popularly called Sala, a 27-year- old Ghanaian travel and tour agent, who is now in police custody, alleged to be the kingpin of human trafficking.

The amount she paid was for her visa and ticket fee. She added GH¢80 for medical screening, GH¢70 for police report and GH¢400 for her passport. She left the country without informing her parents.

Life in Kuwait

Frempomaa, together with some Ghanaians and other foreign nationals, were taken to a building where they waited to be selected by those who had bought them for perpetual servitude.

According to her, they were starved, made to work like beasts and received little pay and food from their mistresses.

They receive no medical services when they are ill and sometimes become victims of sexual assault.

Their phones were seized and they could make a call to the outside world only by the benevolence of the Kuwaiti agents who were always ready to monitor the calls through a computer connected to the internet.

The technology made it easier for the conversation to be translated into Arabic. Frempomaa understood why Cynthia lied about her welfare in Kuwait. It was the fear of being killed if she divulged any information about the syndicate.

Most household, we are told, hire the services of Kadama because the Government provide subvention to households for the services of the slaves.

In view of this any household requiring the services of a slave liaises with Kuwaiti slave agents who recruit victims mostly from African countries.

The Ghana-Kuwait Human Trafficking Trade

The human trafficking syndicate in Ghana receives commission of about $300 for each person successfully trafficked to Kuwait.

Inspector Patrick Cobbinah of the Anti-Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Person Unit of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) told the Ghana News Agency that the phenomena of agents recruiting applicants to live not only in Kuwait but in other foreign destinations had become worrisome.

He said the phenomenon is encouraged in the rural areas through some religious leaders, radio stations as well as fliers and posters.

Mr Francis Palmdetti, Public Relations Officer of the GIS called for increased public education, particularly, through the media as a critical means of addressing the modus operandi of the perpetrators.

He cautioned the media to be circumspect in allowing some questionable business operators to use their platform to advertise their get-rich-schemes.

Mr Palmdetti expressed the need for the public to desist from dealing with travel and tour agents that promises “things that looked too good to be true”.

He appealed to the victims to assist in criminal investigations as well as volunteer first-hand information to the public to deter others from falling in the hands of the perpetrators.

Thanks to the increased activities of GIS in collaboration with other security operatives, activities of the perpetrators are being clamp down.

Strong-willed Frempomaa escaped and arrived in Ghana on Tuesday, April 23 with her friend Cynthia.

Trafficking at the international level

Human trafficking takes the form of trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour or for the extraction of organs or tissues, including surrogacy and ova removal.

It has been described as a lucrative industry, representing an estimated $32 billion per year in international trade, compared to the estimated annual $650 billion for all illegal international trade in 2010.

According to estimates from the International Labour Organisation, every year the human trafficking industry generates 32 billion dollars and $15.5 billion is made in industrialised countries, and $9.7 billion in Asia.

The relatively low risks of trafficking and substantial potential profits have, in some cases, induced criminals to become involved as an alternative to other, riskier criminal pursuits.

Many countries have begun to develop the necessary criminal offences and enforcement powers to investigate, prosecute and punish traffickers and to confiscate their profits, but expertise and resources would be needed to make the measures fully effective.

The support and protection of victims is a critical element in the fight against trafficking to increase their willingness to cooperate with authorities and as a means of being rehabilitated.

Source: GNA

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