The prevalence of child slavery in Ghana’s fishing industry
Worldwide, a total of 160 million children aged 5 to 17 are in child labour: almost a tenth of all the children in the world. 79 million children are doing hazardous work that directly endangers their health. Between 2000 and 2016 child labour figures had been declining, but then all progress stopped and over the next four years, the number of children in forced labour increased by over 8 million. While the number of children over the age of 12 has been declining, there were 16.8 million more children aged 5 to 11 in child labour in 2020 than in 2016.
Child labour is decreasing around the world, but Sub-Saharan Africa has seen an increase in 2012. There are now more children in child labour in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world combined. (Source: International Labour Office 2020 report)
Child slavery in Ghana’s fishing industry
In 2016, in a study commissioned by Free the Slaves organisation, researchers uncovered more than 500 instances of child trafficking in the southern areas of Lake Volta in Ghana. 50 percent of identified cases had been trafficked into the fishing industry. A man-made lake created in 1965, Volta conceals many parasites and branches from the submerged forest in its waters. An investigation by the International Justice Mission in 2015 describes how children are forced to put their health at risk every day by diving underwater to untangle nets from branches. A fifth of those children are aged 6 and under.
How can we combat child slavery?
Fashion brands and other retailers can support progress against child slavery by reviewing their own supply chains and investigating the potential risk of child labour. By working with relevant children’s rights organisations they can ensure good practice in their production. Promoting fair wages for workers in their business and across their sector is also important.
Sea2see has been collaborating with local communities in Ghana for some time now, collecting and recycling marine plastic as part of our WASTE 4 TIME campaign. We understand that poverty is an underlying cause of child slavery and our plastic collection creates an extra source of income for poor communities.
The material we collect is upcycled to make UPSEATM PLAST: a durable plastic that we use for our seastainable watches. We believe another way to help is by supporting policies that provide education for children found in child labour, so our TIME 4 TIME project donates to Free the Slaves and their Growing up Free programme. The sale of each watch donates 10 days of education time, material, uniforms and furniture to a former child slave, giving them the opportunity of a real future.
Read more about our work with Free the Slaves here.
What can we do as individuals?
Help to build awareness about child slavery. Share information, use social media and join the global conversation. Sign up for the Free the Slaves newsletter to keep up with latest events.
Practice ethical consumerism and be mindful of where you spend your money. Try to make sure there is no slavery involved in the products you are buying. KnowTheChain is a great resource for learning about benchmarks and rating of companies that are working against slavery.
Millions of children are still trapped in forced labour, but we can eradicate it for good with your participation. We can all work together to build a society where all children are protected, and their rights are guaranteed.