Sex trafficking is a type of violence perpetrated on women that takes place in diverse settings and usually involves many different actors. It is an aspect of human trafficking that is becoming pandemic in society and possibly, the fastest growing human rights violation in the world today. It has generated a lot of concern worldwide and it is taking roots in Ghana. Sex trafficking in females resembles the ancient dehumanizing slave trade. In most cases, it involves involuntary servitude and is therefore, commonly referred to as modern day slavery.

Sex trafficking thrives and goes on with impunity because, several countries do not have tough anti-trafficking legislation in place and even when there are legislations in place, such laws are often not enforced to check the menace of sex trafficking. Over the years, government policies and programs to end trafficking have all being geared towards preventing child trafficking. Initiatives such as the standard operating procedures to combat human trafficking in Ghana - with an emphasis on child trafficking was out-doored; child protection compact partnership (CPC) was signed with the United States of America to develop jointly with Ghana a multi-year plan to implement new and more effective policies and programs to reduce child trafficking and improve child protection in Ghana.

Over the years, sex trafficking has not been accorded the needed attention. Women trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation is gradually taking roots in Ghana. Ghana is becoming a source, transit and a destination country for trafficked young females in the sub-region.

Causes of Sex Trafficking

Varied reasons have been canvassed for sex trafficking; poverty is a major reason for victims' vulnerability to it. Coupled with lack of formal education, as well as the absence job opportunities, Ghana is gradually becoming a major source of supply fueling the global sex trade.

The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (Rossi 2000), defines trafficking as follows: The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control ... organs.

The United Nations estimates that 2.5 million people are trafficked annually. Sex trafficking deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, it is a global health risk, and it fuels organized crime. Victims of trafficking are forced or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Labor trafficking ranges from domestic servitude and small-scale labor operations to large-scale operations such as farms, sweatshops, and major multinational corporations.

According to the International Labour Organization, (Geneva, 2005), this industry "has become highly diversified and global in recent years." On its part, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Oral Statement on Eradicating Commercial Sexual Exploitation said:

Commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls of all ages, including prostitution, pornography, the internet bride industry and sex tourism, is one of the most devastating and escalating practices of gender-based violence assaulting the human rights and dignity of women and girls. No society that purports to uphold gender equality should tolerate and accept the sexual commoditization of women and girls". (Human Trafficking, Trafficking of Humans Coalition Against Human Trafficking, 2005)

The 3 forms of Sex Trafficking in Ghana

1. Internal

I. Rural Urban Migration

Rural-urban migration has been prevalent over the past few decades as people move in search of employment and better social services and infrastructure. This migration trend contributes significantly to rapid urban growth in Ghana. In addition to other factors such as the natural increase in urban populations and the reclassification of formerly rural areas as urban. Since the 1960s, population censuses have consistently revealed that six regions in Ghana; namely the Central, Eastern, Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West have largely been net out-migration regions, with the three northern regions having the highest out-migration rates. In contrast, the Greater Accra, Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti and Western regions are in-migration areas. These patterns of internal migration are a reflection of regional disparities and differential rural-urban poverty in the country (MOI, 2014). The existing disparities have led to a situation of lack of job opportunities for a huge section of the youthful population, compelling them, especially the young girls, to migrate in search of jobs in the Southern parts of the country. Consequently, young females who migrate to the in-migration regions; Greater Accra, Ashanti Region; Brong Ahafo; Western Region in search of non-existing jobs may be lured by the economic benefits of sex trafficking.

II. Local Apprenticeship

Children have always occupied a special position in Ghana because, they are considered the custodians of the future. In the pre-colonial days, children were the most precious of one's possessions (Gyekye, 1996). Although no child welfare system existed per in the pre-colonial Gold Coast, it was customary for the extended family, through kinship foster care and other community networks, to provide care and protection for children whose parents were unable to do so (Goody, 1966). Orphans were also cared for by childless members of the clan. Community members were also committed to the welfare of children because, they believed it "took a village to raise a child". Therefore, when children did not have biological families to care for them, the community felt indebted to provide guardianship (Ansah-Koi, 2006). The advantage of this system for children was that they always had more than two adults whom they could depend on and who were concerned about their welfare. This system of care involves sending children to learn a trade. In the process of learning the trade as an additional duty they are coerced or lured by their mistresses or masters into embracing the business of sex trade with interested clients.

III. Sex Tourism:

The growing demand for sex tourism is equally met by a growing supply base made up of university students. This is as a result of the existing economic challenges especially, in getting jobs. Parents inability to secure jobs, are unable to cater for their wards in the tertiary level. Thus, students tend to look for unconventional means to sustain themselves whiles in school.

2. Migrants

Cross boarder trafficking occurs in Ghana, and there is evidence of it happening especially for sexual exploitation of women and children. Young girls and women are trafficked from Nigeria, Cote D'lvoire, Togo, Benin etc. into Ghana. Through coercion and sometimes consent they engage in the business of sex trade. Many are spiritually manipulated into the trade. They are therefore, scared of escaping due to spiritual consequences as they have been conditioned to believe.

3. Activities of Travel Recruitment Agencies

For most women, cross country trafficking or illegal migrant smuggling is connected with fraudulent recruitment agencies, recruiting young females to Europe, America and the Arab world including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to do non-existent jobs promised to them. Ghanaian women are trafficked to Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, South Africa, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States for forced labour and sex trafficking.