Child labour common in Sunyani Municipality with many girls engaged in exploitative work

The menace is very common in the enclave of the Central Business District (CBD) and the Nana Bosoma Central Market, where the chop bar operators capitalized on their vulnerabilities, and exploited the girls for monetary gains.

Though quite glaring, the menace seemed unnoticed, as operators used the girls mostly between 13 and 15 years to wash bowls, fetch water, park firewood, serve visitors, and scrub the floor.

During a round visit, the girls told the Ghana News Agency they earned a daily subsistence allowance of GH¢20 and GH¢30, depending on the kind of task they do.

Some of the girls, who spoke to the GNA, said they traveled from the Northern part of the country to find jobs because of the level of poverty and economic hardship, which had bedeviled their families back home.

They, however, preferred to hide their identities and added they worked constantly for more than 10 hours.

“The task is too much and burdensome, but we don’t have any option now” one of the girls stated.

The GNA noticed some of them were pregnant, while others were nursing mothers, who depended on their tasks for the upkeep of themselves and their babies.

Sadly, some of the girls who had babies either used kiosks, abandoned or dilapidated structures as shelter at the Central market while others slept in the open.

Their predicament, the GNA gathered worsened on Wednesdays, the market days at the central market, where traders from different parts of the country come to transact business.

“I am a native of Bolgatanga and I came from Bolga to Sunyani in 2019. At that time, I was 12 years old and since then I have been washing bowls, cutting and parking firewood for my survival”, one of the girls told the GNA.

The vulnerability of these girls exposed them to criminals at the Central market, who often forced, slept and impregnated them.

Salamatu Ajara, a 16-year-old victim girl, noticed washing bowls at a popular chop bar at the CBD, told the GNA the workload was too heavy for her, however, that was the only means she could survive.

Initially, Ajara, a school dropout was reluctant, but later opened and told the GNA she stopped school at the primary level, joined two other girls and traveled from Nandom in the Upper West region to find a job.

“We start work around 0600 hours and close around 1800 hours. Yes, they give us some of the food to eat, but only in the afternoon. You have to feed on the GH¢30 in the mornings and evenings,” she stated.

Ajara and other colleagues expressed interest in engaging in employable skill training and called on the government to come to their aid.

The chop bar operators declined to comment on the matter, however the GNA learnt the body makeup of some of the girls deceived the operators to engage them.

When contacted, Mr George Yaw Ankamah, the Bono Regional Director of the Department of Children told the GNA child labour remained a serious offence, under the Children Act 1998 (Act 560), and other protocols and international conventions.

He expressed regret that the menace was becoming alarming in the region, saying the directorate have had several experiences, and called for collective efforts to bring the situation under control.

Mr Ankamah said it was the responsibility of the various Municipal and District Assemblies to ensure that all school-going age children access formal education, saying collaborative efforts were required to end the menace and to put the nation on the edge to achieve the goal four of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations (UN) global goal four enjoins countries around the globe to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

Source: GNA

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