‘Shock and Awe’: A critique of the Ghana-centric child trafficking discourse


  • Samuel Okyere




child trafficking, anti-trafficking, Ghana, history, Volta lake, Africa, fishing


This paper is a critique of the dominant anti-trafficking discourse and activism in Ghana. It argues that the discourse grossly underplays the role of external forces in shaping the conditions underpinning children’s labour mobility in the past and the hardships underpinning the phenomenon today. In place of critical analysis and understanding, anti-child-trafficking campaigns employ melodramatic ‘shock and awe’ tactics and a tendency to blame local culture or traditions for activists’ claims of ‘pervasive’ child trafficking in the country. The paper suggests that dominant anti-trafficking discourse and activism in Ghana thus reinvigorate historic and persistent external causal agents of inequality which drive Ghanaian children’s labour mobility today. The paper demonstrates this problem and offers correctives to it.


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Author Biography

Samuel Okyere

Samuel Okyere is an Assistant Professor in Sociology and Criminology at the University of Nottingham. He is primarily interested in the use of sociological, anthropological and policy perspectives to address questions on the interplay between rights, power, inequality, domination, class and ethnicity under conditions of globalisation. His current research addresses themes that are of immense significance to contemporary international human rights agendas and goals such as Sustainable Development Goal 8 on decent work for all and Sustainable Development Goal 3 on the promotion of healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages. Dr Okyere is an active participant in international debates on the tensions that arise from the pursuit of universal human rights agendas and the need to recognise and respect differences in socio-cultural norms and values.




How to Cite

Okyere, S. (2017). ‘Shock and Awe’: A critique of the Ghana-centric child trafficking discourse. Anti-Trafficking Review, (9), 92–105. https://doi.org/10.14197/atr.20121797