A Ghanaian human rights center says the number of children begging in Ghana is on the rise.
But a growing number of them are being forced to do so by organized crime gangs who take the money the children receive.
In light of the problem, the Eban Centre for Human Trafficking in Ghana is calling on the government to do more to eradicate forced begging, particularly in the urban centers of Osu, Nima, Madina, Circle, and Shiashie.
Forced begging is a form of human trafficking, and one that takes advantage of the public’s sympathy.
“Most cultures have justified the act of begging as an act necessitated due to structural issues like poverty and socio-inequality,” said Rex Osei Sarpong, the executive director at Eban.
But now these children “have been preyed upon by criminal organizations who have cashed out of the act of begging, to traffic homeless and deprived children to make profits.”
Modern Ghana reports:
In research conducted by Eban, traffickers make approximately $40,000 annually through the use of disabled children who beg on streets.
The study showed that kidnapped children are forced to beg for money, then are introduced to drugs and gangs. Addiction typically follows; the children then resort to begging as a means to feed their habit.
“It is sad to note that, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is yet, to realize its objective of getting 300,000 children off the streets,” Sarpong said.
But the Ministry maintains that they function to “formulate gender, child development and social protection policy and coordinate gender, child and social protection-related programmes.”
Eban is urging the government to “affirm the nation’s commitment to ending human trafficking,” and “recommends the establishment of a child protection system that suits Ghana.”
“Begging and the cartel or forces behind it indicates a weak national and human security lapses of a state,” added Sarpong.