Tackle problems associated with domestic servitude holistically
Dr. Nana Derby, Principal Investigator of Virginia State University (VSU) on Tuesday said the problem of domestic servitude should be tackled holistically to bring hope to domestic employees. She said exploiting them and robbing them of their self esteem was illegal and called for a policy that would ensure their rights were protected and not exploited. Giving an overview of a project titled “Combating Human Trafficking: Protecting Children from Abuse through Domestic Servitude in Ghana”, she admitted that living with other people was not a bad idea but exploiting and abusing them was immoral and dehumanising. Dr Derby was speaking at the launching of the project by Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Programme (LAWA) Ghana in collaboration with VSU and support from the US State Department. The project seeks to intensify public education, provide training and micro-credit to parent and make domestic servitude truly functional. She said those who made other people less human by taking away their individuality, the creative and interesting aspects of their personality, compassion and sensitivity toward others because of poverty were themselves traffickers who should be dealt with. Dr Derby called for partnership and coordination from all stakeholders to empower rural people by giving them skills to be on their own and cater for their children, to understand their right and where necessary properly negotiate terms and conditions under which their wards could work. According to her, domestic workers moved into servitude when they were exploited, abused, made to undertake hazardous work and excluding them from programmes that impacted positively on their lives and making them worst off. “Influencing lawmakers to institutionalise domestic servitude was crucial” she said and added that though Ghana was doing well in ratifying conventions and treaties there was still more to be done to give hope to domestic workers who were of tremendous help especially to the working class. Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Alex Amponsah Asiamah in a speech read on behalf of the Director General of Criminal Investigative Department of Ghana Police Service, said with about 700 police stations and anti-human trafficking unit in all 10 Regions the police were poised to fight all kinds of crimes against humanity. He said when engaged domestic services were criminalised almost all Ghanaians would be guilty and called for collaboration from all stakeholders to tackle the issue and give it a human face. ACP Asiamah called on civil society to partner the police to fight crime and make the country peaceful for all and sundry. Mrs Sheila Minkah-Premo, Board Chairperson of LAWA Ghana, said some of the objectives of LAWA included conducting literacy and awareness programmes, research into human rights, advocacy and lobbying for the protection of women’s right. She said some of their major activities included the submission of the draft domestic violence bill, proposal for the amendment of the labour bill, a draft labour regulation, advocacy on the right of queen mothers in Ghana and a condensed 1992 Constitution adding “these achievements paved the way for LAWA to partner VSU to implement the project”. Mrs Joanna Mensah, Deputy Director of Department of Social Welfare, said government had put in place various interventions such as a National Plan of Action for Children, and other UN Conventions to improve the living standards of women and children. She noted that poverty, ignorance and misconceptions continued to be a major problem, but gave the assurance that the Department would give the laudable project the necessary support. Some participants noted that there was the need to encourage positive cultural rights of children because children would continue to work despite policies that frowned on age limits. They said what needed to be done was to ensure that domestic servants were provided with better bargaining power to empower them for life.
Source: Ghana News Agency