TAMALE, GHANA – In late April, the Ghana Police and the Department of Social Welfare led a rescue operation to bring nine suspected victims of trafficking to safety with support from IJM.
The suspect, in this case, recruited young children to work for him in fishing on Lake Volta. He controlled every aspect of their lives. The children were not allowed to play or associate with any people outside of the suspect’s family and would be punished violently if they did. Anyone outside of the suspect’s family who tried to interact with the children would also be subject to violence. If the children began to develop relationships with neighbors, they would be sent to more remote islands to ensure their isolation. The only movement the children were allowed was between the suspect’s house and his boat, and they were responsible both for housework and fishing on the lake.
The suspect’s own children, meanwhile, were free to move about and attend school.
During the April rescue, four men and five boys were removed from exploitation. Two of the adult victims had been enslaved for twenty years, estimating that they were brought to work on the lake at ages three and five. The youngest victim had arrived less than a year ago and is currently five years old.
Gyasi*, 17, was forced to work for five years on the lake. He shared,
“I feel excited I won’t have to work on the Lake again because I want to go to school.”
The rescue process was owned and led by government partners from the police and social welfare department.