Thursday, February 14, 2013

Child Trafficking in Ghana

As the global price of gold soars, the 2nd largest gold producer in Africa, Ghana, has felt the rush. The promise of finding work in the gold mines brings thousands of Ghanaians to the mining towns. Because few jobs in the formal mining sector are available for Ghanaians, most turn to galamsey mining – small scale, informal mining, carried out with the most basic tools. Galamsey mining is extremely dangerous due to frequent mine collapses, poisonous dust inhalation and exposure to mercury. Many of the miners also become entrapped in debt bondage: With no money to begin operating, they are often forced to take out high-interest loans, where they sell the gold they extract to the same broker from whom they took the loan. It means that the price they fetch for their gold is much below global market prices and never enough to re-pay their debt. The inability of the galamsey gang masters to pay their debt leaves them in a desperate situation where they use slave labor and exploit women and children. Of the estimated 30,000-50,000 galamsey miners, 10,000 are children working in hazardous conditions that put their health and even survival at risk. Sexual violence has emerged as a regular and disturbing issue as girls are trafficked into sexual slavery.