The Tain District Girl Child Co-ordinator, Madam Comfort Manu, has called for intensive sensitisation programmes to curb the rampant migration of girls from the rural areas to urban centres such as Techiman, Sunyani and Kumasi, in search of jobs that are non-existent.
She said it was unfortunate that a number of girls in the area, aged between 12 and 18, decide to move from their homes because of what they term as ‘financial problems confronting their parents’ to the cities to undertake menial jobs.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic after persuading 28 girls she met at Wenchi, who were migrating from Banda Sabie and Banda Sagba to Techiman, Sunyani and Kumasi in search of jobs, to return to their parents, she conceded that such children were mostly from highly deprived homes who trooped to big towns to do menial jobs such as cleaning and selling at the expense of their education.
Madam Manu said, “This is clearly not a case of child trafficking, but an issue of hazardous child labour,” adding that due to the poverty level of their parents, they were unable to provide their children with school uniforms, books and school bags.
She said some of the children used the income they generated from carrying out such menial jobs to support their parents.
She said although some of them decided to make money to meet their educational needs, they unfortunately ended up as school dropouts as a result of teenage pregnancies and natural dislike for schooling as well.
“While in the cities they are vulnerable to sexual assaults, which make them prone to the deadly HIV/AIDS,” Madam Manu observed.
When the Daily Graphic interacted with the children before they returned home, they said situations at home were unbearable for them. “My father is old and we can’t get even enough food to eat at times”, said a 13-year-old girl amongst the group.
Asked how they got transport fares, one of them said they generated money from the shea-butter business that is prevalent in the Banda areas, while others said their relatives supported them.
The Tain District Chief Executive (DCE), Madam Farizana Bintu Ibrahim, who equally expressed concern about the situation, pointed out, “What we need to do is to sensitise parents to realise the dangers that confront such children.”
Some parents interviewed stated that the government’s poverty reduction policies were far from their reach, and therefore appealed to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that had the interest of women at heart to come to their aid. They further appealed to the government and NGOs to consider setting up a shea-butter processing industry in the area to help reduce their poverty levels.
In a related development, records at the offices of the Tain District Mutual Health Insurance Scheme indicate that about five per cent of pregnant women who have registered with the scheme since July were mostly teenagers, reports Samuel Duodu, Nsawkaw.
Most health centres in the district where the Daily Graphic visited revealed that the situation was not a new development in the district. Social workers said the problem was likely to have a negative impact on government efforts to increase access to education through the introduction of the Capitation Grant.
Mr David Kwarteng, the Public Relations Officer of the scheme, said some were as young as 13-years who had stopped schooling as a result of their pregnancies.
Some of the girls interviewed blamed their parents for lack of parental care. Mrs Joyce Arthur, a senior nursing officer at the Badu Health Centre, who also attributed the problem to similar reasons, as well as the attendance of video shows and ‘dance’ especially in the villages, pointed out that the situation kept on worsening every year.
While urging parents to be more responsible, she urged the district assembly to enact bye-laws to control the attendance of children to entertainment spots to help instil discipline in them.