Stakeholders “must come together” to Combat Human Trafficking: Catholic Nun in Ghana

Poster announcing the human trafficking webinar. Credit: Caritas Ghana

A Catholic Nun in Ghana has underscored the need for various stakeholders, including religious leaders, government authorities, and organizations in the West African nation, to “come together” in the fight against the “scourge” of human trafficking. 

Sr. Olivia Umoh who was speaking at the Anti Human Trafficking Webinar organized by the Faith in Ghana Alliance said the fact that human traffickers are organized into a strong interconnected network from the source country to transit nations and the final destination necessitates stakeholder collaboration. 

“If with such evil intent and selfish interests the network of traffickers can achieve so much success in perpetrating human trafficking, how much more can we who hold good and altruistic intends can do when we build a powerful network that can defeat human trafficking?” the member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul said Monday, January 31.

Sr. Umoh emphasized the need for collaboration among those who are against trafficking saying, “We are stronger together. When a spider web unites, it can tie up a lion. This should not be mere wishful thinking.”

"Anyone can do something against human trafficking and the time is now. Coming together to confront this scourge is inevitable. We must come together if we must overthrow this scourge," she said. 


In her presentation, the Catholic Nun who serves as a social worker in fostering the protection of children said the global leadership of the Church is aware of the existence of the web of traffickers and has called on all her members, Christians and people of other religions "to unite and confront this scourge." 

“The Church’s response against human trafficking stems from the belief that human trafficking is a crime against humanity. Therefore, when any member of the human family is enslaved, all humanity is in slavery. When any of our brothers or sisters is trapped in any form of slavery, the entire human family remains unfree," Sr. Umoh said during the January 31 virtual event. 

The Catholic Nun highlighted Talitha Kum as one of the Church’s initiatives in her fight against the scourge of human trafficking. 

Formed in 2001, Talitha Kum Networks is an international network of Consecrated persons involved in the fight against human trafficking. The network is present in five continents including Africa where they are in 15 nations. 

In Ghana, Sr. Umoh said different Catholic Dioceses and Religious Orders have put in place variety of measures meant to stop, rescue and reintegrate victims of human trafficking. 

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Apart from collaborating, the Catholic Nun said humanity needs to engage in “a marathon of prayer” for an end to human trafficking. 

"There could be no powerful response to a monstrous problem that is so complex in nature than to call for a marathon of prayer. When a problem defies human solution, we surrender to God for whom all things are possible," Sr. Umoh said during the January 31 Webinar. 

She added that people of all faiths could join Catholics for the "marathon of prayer… to raise our voices together to God and to the human heart to end human trafficking" on the occasion of the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking to be marked on the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, February 8.

The virtual event was organized under the theme, “Religious Leaders in Ghana Organizing for Faith and Practical Response to the Scourge of Human trafficking.”

It was spearheaded by the Faith in Ghana Alliance in collaboration with the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), with Caritas Ghana, Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, and the Ahjmayya Muslim Mission Ghana, among others.


At the event, Ghana’s Deputy Director of Anti-Trafficking Unit at the Criminal Investigation Department, William Ayaraga, said investigators looked into 137 cases of human trafficking in 2019.

Mr. Ayaraga further noted that the West African nation is a source, transit and destination of men, women and children subjected to human trafficking.

To fight human trafficking, he said faith leaders ought to support anti-trafficking agencies.

“Faith Baith Organizations (FBOs) can provide shelter for victims where they can undergo some training before they are reintegrated to society,” Mr. Ayaraga said, adding, “Church members can offer expertise such as medical support, legal support, trauma care, counselling to victims.”

Together, law enforcement agencies and FBOs will help facilitate victims’ recovery, reintegration and criminal prosecution, he emphasized.

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During the Webinar, Dr. Nasiba Taahiru-Swallah, a clinical psychologist, said trafficking goes against Islam which emphasizes respect for human rights.

“Islam places the highest value on humanity and the Quran emphasizes this. There is no tolerance for any form of human trafficking. Islam does not tolerate human trafficking,” said Dr. Swallah.

She added that human rights in Islam is the obligation of every Muslim, government and organs of society to implement within the framework of order.

In her presentation, the Muslim faithful noted that human trafficking has been ingrained in the Ghanaian culture.

“Parents have sent children to live with extended family members in order to establish family ties and boost their children’s educational or skills development. Children living with relatives are frequently exploited for labor, domestic services, and stopped from schooling,” Dr. Swallah said.

The clinical psychologist added that poverty has also forced many Ghanaian youths to seek for jobs away from their hometowns, a factor that places them at risk of being trafficked.

As a way forward, she said faith-based leaders have to be at the forefront in combating human trafficking. 

“We can use our pulpit to influence and preach against human trafficking,” the clinical psychologist said, adding that religious leaders can lobby and mobilize support to strengthen prevention of human trafficking through their respective institutions.

“Collaboration is important in combating this menace. Trafficking leaves both visible and invisible scars. To combat trafficking, psychologists, policy makers, and religious leaders must collaborate,” Dr. Swallah said.

Last year, religious leaders drawn from Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and Ivory Coast jointly declared to use their influence in society to end human trafficking

Secretary General of GCBC, Fr. Lazarus Anondee, who participated in the signing of the "Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery” said human trafficking is "a particularly heinous crime, as it involves the exploitation and abuse of people for the purpose of gaining profit."

The Declaration was an initiative of the of the Global Freedom Network of the human rights organization, Walk Free, which advocates a faster end to the crime of human trafficking that affects more than 40 million people worldwide.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.