Kidnapping: Causes, Consequences, and Recommendations

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Defining Kidnapping
  • Causes of Kidnapping in Sekondi-Takroadi
  • Consequences of Kidnapping on Victims
  • Recommendations and Concluding Thoughts


Slavery has taken place in the context of human trafficking which mostly begins with kidnapping (Lee,2013). However, kidnapping is not a phenomenon (Feldmann & Hinojosa, 2009). Kidnapping is as old as the Holy bible and Holy quaran talks about it in Prophet Joseph demonstrating that. However, according to mohammed (2013) the modern usage of the term ‘kidnapping’ dates back to 17th-century Britain where infants (‘kid’) of rich families have been ‘napped’ (caught in the sleep) for ransom.

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Defining Kidnapping

This phenomenon has increased over time all over the world, because the Global Slavery Index (2014) indicated that throughout 2014, men, women and children continue to be kidnapped in village raids and held as slaves by militias in most part of the world. Kidnapping has being defined by various scholars in different ways. Firstly, Inyang and Abraham (2013, p. 532) defined it as “the forcible seizure, taking away and unlawful detention of a person against his/her will. It is a common law offence where the main focus is that it is unwanted act on the part of the victim”. Another definition is offered by Fage and Alabi (2017, p. 289) who conceived kidnapping as “forceful or fraudulent abduction of an individual or a group of individuals for reasons ranging from economic, political, and religious to [struggle for] self-determination”. Nevertheless, the authors later admitted that the forcefully or fraudulently kidnapped individuals are carried off for the purpose of hostages. This means that kidnapping is still on due to social, economic and political factors.

Uzorma and Nwanegbo-Ben (2014, p. 132), also defined kidnapping as the “act of seizing and detaining or carrying away a person by unlawful force or by fraud, and often with a demand for ransom. It involves taking a person from their family forcefully without their consent with the motive of holding the person as a hostage and earning a profit from their family”. From the previous definitions kidnapping can be described in so many ways, but it is clear that for an act to be deemed kidnapping, it shall involve coercive movement of a victim from one place to another, detention or seizure of that person be it a child or an adult.

Kidnapping was an alien in Ghana from time immemorial till recent cases of the Sekondi-Takoradi kidnap (Kouassi, 2000). This is where Five young girls have being kidnapped between August 2018 and January, 2019. Specifically, on the August 15, 2018, a 16-year-old senior high school student was kidnapped about a hundred meters from her house at New site. The girl was abandoned the next day close to her house leaving her dumb, possibly traumatized by her ordeal. Two days after, a 21-year-old lady was also kidnapped at Nkroful junction, also in the Sekondi- Takroadi Metropolis. On December 4, 2018, A group of unidentified men who posed as workers of mobile telecom giant, MTN Ghana, kidnapped an 18-year-old lady in Takroadi. December 21, 2018, Priscilla Mantebea Koranchie, a 15-years-old girl was also kidnapped in Sekondi-Takroadi.

These cases of kidnap have left to the nation of insecurity to the people of Ghana most especially the Western Region. As a threat to security there need to be looked at looking at the causes, effects and the remedies to curb such problem hence this work.

Causes of Kidnapping in Sekondi-Takroadi

Kidnapping, as a violent crime, is a rather complex problem. It takes place in various contexts and under various circumstance. Its causes and consequences are also enormous. Hazen and Horner (2007) observe that hostages have been taken for two primary reasons: political bargaining and economic gain. Kidnapping has being a broad underlining factor and very importantly for understanding the factors for the problem. But beyond these broad typologies, persons are kidnapped by criminals for various reasons and intentions, such as for adoption, begging, camel racing, illicit intercourse, marriage, prostitution, ransom, revenge, sale, selling body parts, slavery, unlawful activity, murder and for other purposes. Due to globalization on the expansion on the increase in crimes as transcending national borders, which is termed as trans-border crimes, like commercial sex by under-age and human trafficking (Ibrahim & Mukhtar, 2016). Borders has turned to be a major movement for legal organized syndicate.

In Ghana and many African states, political factors, poverty, lack of legal or available employment opportunity among the youths are also playing fundamental role in the rise of kidnapping. In line with the above, a large number of adolescents living and making a living on the streets. This has been attributed to economic factors and exposure to all forms of risks.

Closely related to Hazen and Horner’s typology is that given by Zannoni (2003), who mentioned that motivations and mode of operation vary, but generally there are two main kinds of kidnapping for ransom. These can be roughly categorized as “criminal kidnapping”, where the main motive is to obtain a ransom from the family or business of the victim. This category includes instances where criminals take hostages as a shield to help them escape from the scene of a crime, or use them to obtain money or valuables, or the keys or secret codes needed to access areas where these are stored. The other type of kidnapping, according to Zannoni (2003), is “political kidnapping”, where the foremost objective is to further the political aims of a particular political group or movement. In this case, a ransom is usually demanded to obtain money for the group to fund their activities. This made the dividing line between economic and political kidnappings so blurred. In addition, religious and other political extremists use kidnapping as political weapons and as a means of financing their activities (Catlin Group, 2012).

Economic deprivation and a sense of desperation have planted the seeds of kidnapping as a way of getting money in poor communities. It can then become a way of life, even when legal options become available (Catlin Group, 2012). The disparity between rich and poor is growing, and thanks to the internet and global media, everyone can see how the rich are living. It fuels resentment and a desire for a bigger share (Catlin Group, 2012). This corroborate social exchange theory. Social exchange theory was propounded by George Homans (1961, as cited in Ibrahim & Mukhtar, 2016) and the theory is an off-shoot of rational choice approach, which views “human behaviour as being guided by hedonistic principle or pleasure-seeking” tendency (Ibrahim & Mukhtar, 2016, p. 81).

Homan’s main interest was on the history of rewards and costs, which lead people to do what they do. Basically, Homans argued, people continue to do what they have found to be rewarding in the past. Conversely, they cease doing what has proved to be costly in the past. To understand behaviour, we need to understand an individual’s history of rewards and costs. Using exchange theory, kidnapping and receiving a ransom for returning hostages can be viewed as special kind of give and take. The reciprocal characteristic of this type of crime is that, it involves give and take because the kidnappers ask for money or make demands for something other than money (Ibrahim & Mukhtar, 2016: 85). The kidnappers will exchange the kidnapped for money. In the case of the 21-year-old, the kidnappers called for some money to be sent to them for her to be released.

Consequences of Kidnapping on Victims

Irrespective of the type of kidnapping and the motive for its perpetration, the psychological and financial impact of the problem can be quite devastating, both for the victims and their significant others. Victims of kidnapping differ in age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, level of education, and country of origin. Although anyone can become a victim of trafficking, certain populations are especially vulnerable to this form of victimisation (Kaylor, 2015). The paper will first examine the effect of child kidnapping, which is more common and a deep-rooted crime worldwide. Not only does forceful removal of a child from his/her family traumatises the victim, it also unravels the lives of his/her parents, family, and community (Orset, 2008). One common effect of the abduction which seemed memorably traumatic for those concerned, and which was raised many times was the lack of contact for many parents with their children during the period that they were away. This was often because the left-behind parent did not know the children’s whereabouts (Freeman, 2006). Child sexual abuse as a result of kidnapping also exposes child to the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Another guised form of sexual molestation of kidnapped children is that the abducted under age victims are often subjected to forced marriage with older husbands. As reported by Clark (2004), the child brides are married to older, more sexually experienced men with whom it is difficult to negotiate safe sexual behaviours, especially when under pressure to bear children. A study conducted in Kenya and Zambia in 2004 finds that married girls aged 15-19 were 75 percent more likely to contract HIV than sexually active, unmarried girls of the same age. Similar figures have been found in 29 countries across Africa and Latin America (Clark, 2004)

Apart from psychological trauma on the victim and the victim’s family, as well as physiological implications, kidnapping is also accompanied with huge economic or financial implications. According to Catlin Group (2012, p. 2), one estimate suggests that globally, ransom payments could be worth US$500 million annually, but an authoritative figure simply is not possible when the total number of incidents is open to great uncertainty. The vast majority of kidnaps, perhaps 70 per cent, go unreported for fear of reprisals or a lack of confidence in the police.

In some interviews, Freeman (2006, p. 29) also mentioned that some left-behind parents disclosed having thoughts of extreme violence at that time as well as finding solace through religious faith. Others talked of their inability to settle while knowing that their children was somewhere else and of feeling constantly depressed and ill. Examples of this were given when these parents spoke of: losing their hair, physical sickness, becoming dependent on pills and alcohol, feeling suicidal, being unable to function properly, the feeling of helplessness, feeling “in limbo”, as if waiting for a medical diagnosis, and the fear of having lost their children forever.

Recommendations and Concluding Thoughts

Poverty alleviation programmes should also be directed towards addressing high incidence of poverty among women and children who are vulnerable segment of the population mostly kidnapped by terrorists or insurgents and trapped by organised criminals, ending up in abduction for force labour. Constitutionally, there shall be sections pronouncing the specific severe penalties against kidnappers. This might serve as deterrence for those already involved and those willing to be involved.

The law enforcement agents, such as the police as well as other agencies meant for anti-human trafficking shall also intensify surveillance on the fight against kidnapping. They shall be receiving special trainings on how to identify victims of kidnapping and be able to take them from the kidnappers without them being hurt.

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