Children as young as 13 in danger of entering sex trade but
how can this practice be controlled?
It is said to be the oldest profession in the world as it is as old as the hills. The practice of selling one’s body for money by offering sex at a negotiated price.In Ghana a Prostitute is commonly know as an “Ashawo” Prostitution comes in different guises. There are men who live with women they picked from the streets and who have not been formally acknowledged as wives, because the man has not stood on ceremony with them.
In 2013 this old age practice is fast becoming the way of life for many young women in Accra and beyond. Shockingly it is being reported that girls as young as thirteen are involved in practice in rural areas where there is a lack of education in sexual health. These girl are at high risk of contracting sexual transmitted infections and are can be easily exploited by pimps. Many prostitutes in Ghana are forced into the practice or do it as means to an end. For example they may prostitute in order to earn enough money to help pay school fees of their younger sibling back home, or to send remittances to their aged parents or help renovate the living quarters of their parents.
Prostitution like in Ghana like many countries is illegal. It is a criminal act which attract criminal penalty as per the criminal books of the country. Prostitution is defined by section 279 Of the criminal code 1960 (Act 29) as amended by Act 554 (section 15) as includes the offering by a person of his body commonly for acts of lewdness (Sex) payment although there is no act of ordinary sexual connexion section 276 of the code as amended by sect 14 of act 554, provides that any person who persistently solicits or importunes in any public place or in sight of any public place for the purpose of prostitution shall be liable for a first offence to a fine not exceeding 500.000 and for a second or subsequent offences shall be guilty of a misdemeanour. Section 275 provides that any person who in any public place or in sight of any public place persistently solicits or importunes to obtain clients for any prostitute, or for any other immoral purpose shall be guilty of a misdemeanour. A high percentage are vulnerable to HIV.
A study conducted by the International Organisation for Migration and published earlier this year revealed that there are between 40,000 to 50,000 prostitutes in Ghana with 90% being the mobile kind, and 10% being sedentary or fixed in one place.
So what are the solutions and how can the practice be controlled before it spirals out of control? It is clear that the high unemployment rate in the country is a major factor that promotes this trade like in many other countries. It is not booming because young women delight in offering their bodies to all manner of clients without restraint. It is flourishing because they are so desperate and have no other option but to fall back on their natural assets to eke out their livelihood. Therefore these young girls need better access to education so they don’t drop out school and embark on a career in the sex trade. I also believe that the men who solicit these girls should be adequately punished by the law so as to act as a deterrent and reducing “business” for these girls. Human trafficking is also a problem that feeds into prostitution in Ghana it would be naïve to think that all the prostitutes in the country are Ghanaian. There will a large proportion of girls that have been trafficked into the country from other countries on the continent for the purpose of prostitution. Therefore the authorities need to ensure they crackdown on trafficking on all levels.
Prostitutes unsurprisingly are looked down upon with scorn in Ghana, yet they are part of society, and deserve our sympathies. We need to show empathy towards them because in most cases, they are victims of severe and austere circumstances, and of course it takes two to tango. We need to have social intervention to support and rehabilitate prostitutes in Ghana and not just isolate them from society.
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Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)