Stop Adults From Using Children As Beggars
Ghana was the first state to ratify the UN convention on the rights of the child. However, the country still lags far behind in terms of stopping exploitation of children, as many children continue to suffer abuse and maltreatment, particularly the menace of economic exploitation in the form of begging on major streets of Accra.
On February 5th 1990, Ghana became the very first country to ratify the Convention on the rights of the Child at the United Nations General Assembly and the convention officially came into force on 2 September 1990.
This signaled a new dawn for the protection of the rights and welfare of children in Ghana; or at least we thought so.
In 1998, the parliament of Ghana also passed the Children’s Act 1998, Act 560 in line with the country’s international commitment to uphold the rights of the child.
Essentially the goal was to, “reform and consolidate the law relating to children, to provide for the rights of the child, maintenance and adoption and regulate child labour…” in the country.
While these gestures are laudable and duly appreciated by the people of Ghana, the practical application of some of the key provisions of the convention and Act 560 has been rather ineffective and seems to lack the necessary commitment on the part of duty bearers.
One such area is the provision against economic exploitation of children by adults as stated below in article 32 of the 1990 UN child rights convention:
“States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.” (Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child)
This means any state that ratifies this convention including Ghana, agrees to protect its children from economic exploitation in every part of the country.
Yet, many young girls and boys continue to work or beg on the streets of Accra for adults instead of being in school, learning and playing with other children.
What is more troubling about the plight of these children is that they often work in the middle of moving traffic which is very dangerous and a harmful to their health and survival.
Whenever you drive around areas such as Madina Zongo Junction, 37 round about, Opebea Junction and Korle Bu area, you could see the so called ‘parents’ resting under a shade from the scorching sun, while the little children beg for money on the road in the hot sun.
It is extremely worrying that no one seems to care, or even if they do, nothing is being done about the appalling situation.
Public officials use these roads everyday but continue to ignore the situation as if everything is normal and proper.
But this is not normal. And, it’s not proper. It is not right to leave children in the hands of those who abuse and exploit them for their personal gains.
Economic exploitation of children is a crime according to article 32 of the child rights convention which Ghana ratified since February 1990.
So, we need our authorities to act now to stop the practice and punish perpetrators who send children out in the hot sun to make money for them.
Remember, children are entitled to special care and assistance