Public Agenda (Accra)

29 October 2007

Ghana: Sex Trade Gang is Live And Kicking

editorial

The busting of two men last week for allegedly trafficking women to Europe for sex tourism did not come as a surprise since Ghana has become a hub for many things in the West African subregion.

The surprising aspect of it is that it is Ghanaians at the helm of the heinous crime to export as many 19 Nigerian girls to Europe ostensibly to trade as sex tools.

Why on earth would Nigerian girls heading for Europe use Ghana as a transit point? The media reports quoted police investigators as saying that the girls came to Ghana to have travel documents processed for their trip to Europe.

What this simply implies is that whereas even in Nigeria it has become very difficult to use fake documents to travel, Ghana has become a breeding ground for the illegal business, which is gradually eroding the confidence of the embassies in Ghanaians.

While commending the CID authorities for acting swiftly to nip the bud, the latest attempt at exporting young girls to Europe through Ghana, like their Nigeria counterparts, Ghanaian police and their immigration counterparts must assure the public that they on top of the job.

It is a known fact that the sex trade industry is complex network of hardened criminals some of who work in the very security services that are paid by the taxpayer to put the brakes on the activities such social deviants.

Even as this editorial is being read, there are probably scores of such girls still being sent to Europe under the guise of sending them to their relatives or parents. The 19 girls may be Nigerians as the reports indicated, but any girl, no matter her nationality that is being trafficked to be exploited sexually should be our concern. This because human rights abuse against any girl, no matter colour, nationality, religion or tribe is a crime against humanity.

Let us not delude ourselves that Ghanaian girls are being trafficked the same manner as Nigerian girls. Ghanaian girls are even worse when it comes to such things.

At the heart of trafficking girls for sexual exploitation is tourism, no one needs any reminder that wherever tourism is at its peak social vices like prostitution, homosexuality and pedophilia come as a natural consequence. That is why this newspaper has had cause to raise the red flag over the government's zeal to make tourism the number one exchange earner. Undoubtedly, tourism has the potential to boost economic growth, but even where the economies entirely depend on tourism for revenue, they have put in tight laws to protect vulnerable children.

Even as we are pushing to possibly make tourism the number exchange earner, we must strengthen the regulatory bodies before opening the gates. For instance, the United States of America has the PROTECT Act of 2003 which is a multipurpose law intended to prevent child abuse.

Among other things, the law provides for mandatory life imprisonment of sex offenses against a minor if the offender has had a prior conviction of abuse against a minor, with some exceptions. It also establishes a program to obtain criminal history background checks for volunteer organizations.

Without such a law, the Ghana 2008 tournament will open our country to excessive abuse by sex tourists masquerading as soccer fans.

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