The rights of children in Ghana


Essay, 2016
14 Pages

Excerpt

Content

Introduction

Meaning of a Child

What are the rights of Children
Provision
Protection
Participation

International Legal and Institutional Framework for the Rights of Children

Local Legal and Institutional Framework for the Rights of Children in Ghana

Child Rights Abuse in Ghana
Child Trafficking
Street children
Child domestic workers
Child labour
Domestic Violence
Sexual Abuse

Effects of children’s Rights Abuse

Major Challenges facing the Protection of child Rights in Ghana

Innovative ways of Dealing with Child Rights Violations

Summary

Conclusion

Introduction

Children are vulnerable, tender and small, therefore are largely dependent on adults. The future of every child to a very large extent depends on the care, facilities and opportunities they get during their childhood consequently, if children do not get what they need, they cannot grow up to become the expected worthy citizens of the country. In order to grow up properly, some basic needs are to be fulfilled as their right. Rights of Children include the Right to food, Right to clothing, Right to Shelter, Right to education, Right to entertainment, Right to good health and proper nourishment and the right to name and country. However, the observance of some of these child rights has often become a challenge especially to most developing countries including Ghana. This write-up is therefore going to discuss the state of child rights in Ghana, major sources of children’s right abuses, effects of these abuses and recommendations to improve the situation. The write-up will be segmented into the following sub-headings : Meaning of a child, brief History of the rights of children, the exact rights of children, International Legal and institutional Framework for the rights of children, Local Legal and institutional Framework for the Rights of children, Sources of child Rights abuse, Effects of these Abuses, Efforts made by the State so far Regarding Safeguarding the Rights of Children, major challenges to the Protection of Children’s Rights in Ghana, Ways of Dealing with these Abuses against the Rights of Children, a summary and Conclusion.

Meaning of a Child

Most International Human Rights Instruments such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( CRC ), African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child among others all define a child as a human being below the age of eighteen ( 18 ). In Ghana, the Children’s Act of 1998 and the 1992 Republican Constitution ( section 29 ) in like manner also define a child as a human being below the age of eighteen ( 18 ) making it in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child .

What are the rights of Children

The idea that Children have special needs has now given way to the conviction that children have the same spectrum of rights just as their grown counterparts: civil and political rights, social, cultural and economic rights. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children’s rights should be implemented without discrimination of any kind, all actions and policies should be guided by the best interests of the child, the participation of children should always be sought and all actions should aim at the promotion of the survival and development of children. For this, proper care and facilities should be provided for all children. Children need food, clothing, shelter, health facilities, education, protection, entertainment and above all, freedom. All children have a claim for these things in a society. These are the fundamental rights of children in the world. Children’s Rights could be basically categorized into Provision, Protection and Participation based on the Provisions of the Convention on the rights of the child.

Provision

Children have the right to live and grow in an adequate standard of living, home, healthcare, services, to play, a balanced diet, education and access to schooling, entertainment etc.

Protection

These Rights include protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination including the right for safe children’s environments and a constructive child rearing behavior. Children have to be protected from child labour which is hazardous to the child’s health can prevent him from going to school. All work is prohibited for children less than 12 years. No child can be tortured or given other cruel treatment, parenting should be supplied with benefits provided by the relationships and upbringing by their parents and if things go wrong, the government must interfere to protect the child from parental abuse and neglect.

Participation

All children have the right to participate in communities. This includes children’s involvement in communities. This includes children’s involvement in libraries and community programs and allow children to be decision-makers. Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( 1989 ) and till date, all the world’s countries except for Somalia and the USA have pledged to follow the convention (Childrights, 2011).

International Legal and Institutional Framework for the Rights of Children

The constitutional provisions on human rights particularly Children’s Rights are based on the common law and various international conventions which a country has ratified. The famous ones are the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ghana was the first country to ratify in February 1990. Others are the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child together with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing rules) and the ILO Conventions 138 and 182. Ghana is also a “state party” to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW), and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (the African Charter). These Conventions though not referred to specifically in the domestic law, have greatly influenced the legal position on children’s rights. The Parliament of Ghana has also signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in Armed Conflict and the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst forms of Child labour.

Local Legal and Institutional Framework for the Rights of Children in Ghana

The Constitution of Ghana chapter 5 provides for the protection of children’s rights, amongst others. The rights of women and children are protected under Articles 27 and 28 of the 1992 Constitution. Other relevant legislations include The Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560) which protects children generally, Criminal Offences Amendment Act, 1998 (Act 554) which protects the child from sexual offences, abduction and abandonment, Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) which protects children from violence in domestic settings, Human Trafficking Act, 2005 (Act 694) which protects the personal liberty of children, Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653) which protects the Rights of the Child who has breached the Law and the Criminal offences Act, 1960 ( Act 29 ). Ghana did not adequately criminalize domestic violence resulting in the passage of the Domestic Violence Act, 2007.(Act 732 ). This Act seeks proscribe violence within the domestic setting. The legislation provides victims of domestic violence protection and occupational orders. To give effect to the Act, the Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) formerly known as the Women and Juveniles Unit (WAJU) was established to handle cases of domestic violence and child abuse as well as juvenile offences. DOVVSU works closely with the Department of Social Welfare, FIDA (Federation of International Women Lawyers, Ghana), African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), the Legal Aid Board and several other human rights NGOs to combat domestic violence.

Child Rights Abuse in Ghana

In spite of the almost sufficient legal framework both local and International, Child Rights violations are still very common in Ghana. It is however interesting that, major social institutions that are expected to provide protection for the Rights of the Child have rather become the setting for various forms of child rights abuses. Notable amongst them include the Family or the home, the school, the church (Religion) and the state at large etc. In Ghana, it is difficult to guarantee good health to children as a result, the infant mortality rate is particularly high and life expectancy is only 57 years. More than 13% of newborns have a low birth weight. Additionally, there are not enough medical personnel to care for all the children and newborns in the country. As a result, some of them are not immediately cared for, resulting in the spread of numerous viruses. Some sicknesses are very virulent among young Ghanaians, notably malaria, tuberculosis and even HIV. In Ghana, the population is still very far from accepting and respecting gender equality. As a result, young girls are excluded from a large number of areas. Their future and their function are predetermined, and only very rarely do they integrate into areas with some social or even political importance (DANIDA, 2002)

Leading child rights violations include cultural practices such as the female genital mutilation ( FGM ), ritual enslavement such as the “ trokosi “ ( ritual servitude of girls including sexual abuse and child labour ) in the Volta Region, various forms of widowhood rites which violate the rights of girls, high level of illiteracy among girls, child labour, sexual abuse ( high rate of teenage pregnancy , child commercial sex and pornography ), high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, corporal punishments of children, still yet to be realized real “ free “ universal basic education in Ghana, child domestic workers, the menace of street children, child trafficking among others. Under this sub-topic however, the following violations will be discussed and put in perspective ; child trafficking, street children, child domestic workers, child labour, Domestic Violence, sexual abuse, and violations of the right to education ( must be free and easily accessible ).

Child Trafficking

Trafficking occurs internally and across borders. The elements of child trafficking are the conclusion of a transaction, the handing over of a person to a third party with or without a fee for the purpose of exploitation. The intervention of an intermediary is a common factor and the motive is to exploit. The majority of persons trafficked within the country are children, particularly girls between the ages of 7-16 years who come from northern parts of the country. Boys aged 10-17 years are lured to the mining and coastal areas to engage in illegal mining and to become fisher children. Methods of acquiring children include the following: abduction, outright sale, bonded placement, deceit of parents or guardians and coercion (DANIDA, 2002)

Street children

Urbanization and other socio-economic factors are creating the phenomenon of street children. There are two types of children on the street: those who are on the street trading during the day but go home to sleep at night and those who work on the street and at night sleep in front of shops, markets and other such open places. The phenomenon of street children thus refers to the latter category of children who live on the streets and have made it their permanent sleeping place. In a child labour survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service, of the 17,034 children interviewed, 7,120 (41.8 percent) were aged 5-9 years, while 6,737 (39.5 percent) were between the ages 10-14 and 3,177 (18 percent) between 15-17 years. Thus about four-fifths (81.3 percent) of the children were aged 5-14 years. Greater Accra has the highest proportion of street children followed by the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions due to high demand and poverty. Results of the child labour study revealed that 71 percent of children was illiterate. They gave reasons for not going to school or dropping out as inability to pay school fees, loss of interest in school work and the need to work for financial support for themselves and their families. About 78 percent of the children wanted Government to provide them with free education, (DANIDA 2002). The underlying causes for the growing numbers of street children include rural/urban drift, the poverty of parents, the survival of the children and the harsh economic conditions prevailing in the deprived areas they come from.

Child domestic workers

The practice of children working in domestic settings as maids, child minders and general house helps takes root from customary servitude. It is one of the most common forms of child employment and affects girls more than boys. What started as a form of customary fosterage has now become commercialized. It has long been considered as part of a socialization process and is accepted as training for young girls who will ultimately manage their own homes. However, child domestic work has ceased to be a family affair. The issue of child domestic workers is very complex as it goes on behind closed doors. Research commissioned by ILO/IPEC reveals that the two regions with the greatest concentration of child domestic workers are Ashanti and Greater-Accra Regions with duration of the employment of children ranging between two and ten years (DANIDA 2002).

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Excerpt out of 14 pages

Details

Title
The rights of children in Ghana
Author
Year
2016
Pages
14
Catalog Number
V340676
ISBN (eBook)
9783668304611
ISBN (Book)
9783668304628
File size
496 KB
Language
English
Tags
child rights, Ghana, children, children rights abuses
Quote paper
Kwesi Nyarkoh Koomson (Author), 2016, The rights of children in Ghana, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/340676

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