Prostitution in Ghana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prostitution in Ghana is illegal but widespread,[1][2] so much so that many Ghanaians are unaware that it is prohibited.[3] There are growing sex tourism, child prostitution[4] and human trafficking.[5][6] High rates of unemployment and poverty in Ghana are believed to be causing a drastic growth in the sex industry.[7][8] Unemployment is a reason the teenage engage in sex trade.[9][10] A high percentage of sex workers are vulnerable to HIV.[11]

Some prostitutes in Ghana are campaigning for the sex trade to be legalised,[9][12] and discussions have taken place.[2]

Ghana's former Prime Minister, Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, an Oxford sociologist, wrote a thesis on prostitution “Report on a social survey of Sekondi-Takoradi.“[5]


Prostitutes in Ghana are known locally as "ashawo",[13] "toutou" (derived from 'two shillings, two pence'; a prostitute who doesn't charge much)[10] or "maame-i-dey".[5] There are brothels in most Ghana towns, cities and ports. Often these are in makeshift shacks or old warehouses, and some are attached to bars.[14] Prostitutes not working in the brothels are known as either "seaters" or "roamers".[3] The seaters work from home, sitting in the doorway and inviting customers in.[3] When they are with a customer they lower a curtain in front of the door.[10] Seaters generally work in one area of town, creating a small red-light district. Generally they are older women or widows.[3]

Roamers tend to be younger women and work on the streets, bars and hotels.[3] "Pilots", often taxi-drivers, work as intermediaries between the women and clients in hotels. They usually get a fee from both parties.[3] They also help the women get into the hotels as most have a no single women rule.[3] Hotel staff may also take bribes to let the women in.[3]

The women face occasional violence from the customers, or more commonly refusal to pay. Hotel staff may exploit them.[3]

Since oil production started in 2011, prostitution in the port of Takoradi has risen sharply due to the influx of oil workers.[15]

UNAIDS estimate there are 52,000 prostitutes in the country.[16]

Male prostitution[edit]

The prevalence of male prostitution in Ghana has slowly risen over the years but not much is said about it because of the form it takes. Male prostitution is predominant in the following areas such as Tesano, Adabraka, Osu, Accra and Paloma in Accra. Male prostitutes go undercover as women because homosexuality is illegal in Ghana as per the constitution.[17][18][19] The activities of these prostitutes are most commonly patronized by men in the elite class who have enough resources to be discreet about their sexual activities.[20] This leads to a relevant increase in the price of engaging homosexual prostitutes given the limited supply of these prostitutes.[17]

Law enforcement[edit]

Law enforcement is variable, and there are also occasional crack-downs on prostitutes.[1] Prostitutes are often abused by law enforcement officers.[9][3] In a survey across 26 town and cities, a third of the prostitutes told of problems with the police. These included intimidation, extortion, threats and raids. Many reported that they had had to have sex with the officers to avoid prosecution.[3]

In a 2007 survey of 251 law enforcement agents, 15% admitted they had demanded sex in return for not prosecuting arrested prostitutes.[1]

Police and politicians are sometimes bribed or blackmailed to turn a blind eye.[21]

Sex tourism[edit]

Ghana has established itself as a destination for sex tourism from western tourists. This kind of tourism has attracted paedophiles due to the country's lax child protection laws and poor law enforcement.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28] Child prostitution is increasing is a problem with girls being vulnerable and boys to a lesser extent.[29][30][31][32][33][34]

Sex trafficking[edit]

Vietnamese prostitutes have been found in Ghana[35] in the coastal cities of Tema and Takoradi.[36] Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas discovered that the Vietnamese women had been trafficked into Ghana for the purposes of prostitution.[37] The Vietnamese prostitutes had been recruited by a Vietnamese woman named Hanh in July 2013.[38] The price paid by their clients in Ghana was US$100 per hour.[39][40] The prostitutes worked from a brothel in the Jang Mi Guest House in Takoradi.[41] The women's ages ranged from 25 to 35.[42]

Women and girls from China, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso are also trafficked into Ghana for prostitution.[43]

The United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ranks Ghana as a 'Tier 2' country.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "2008 Human Rights Report: Ghana". 25 February 2009. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b Overview of Trafficking and Prostitution Laws in the Middle East and Africa (PDF) (Report). Thomson Reuters Foundation. November 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bindman, Jo; Doezema, Jo (1997). "Redefining Prostitution as Sex Work on the International Agenda" (PDF). Atria. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  4. ^ Tornyi, Emmanuel (31 August 2015). "UNICEF report: Cape Coast tops child prostitution in Ghana – Survey – News – Pulse". Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Prostitution in Ghana". 12 July 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Ghana". Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  7. ^ Yeboah, Muriel A. (1 January 2008). Gender and Livelihoods: Mapping the Economic Strategies of Porters in Accra, Ghana (PhD thesis). West Virginia University. ProQuest 304446957.
  8. ^ Opare, Albert (24 March 2016). "Relationship Between Unemployment And Prostitution In Ghana". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Isaac Kaledzi (21 August 2013). "Prostitutes in Ghana battle for recognition". Deutsche Welle.
  10. ^ a b c Ditmore, Melissa Hope (1 January 2006). Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313329708. Retrieved 23 January 2017 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "IOM Study shows HIV vulnerability among female sex workers in Ghana". Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Make Prostitution Legal - Prostitutes Urge Gov't". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  13. ^ Albert Opare (24 March 2016). "Relationship Between Unemployment And Prostitution In Ghana". Modern Ghana.
  14. ^ Kove-Seyram, Selase. "The girls behind the railway line - ZAM". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  15. ^ Francis Kokutse (9 February 2012). "Ghana: oil revives prostitution". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Sex workers: Population size estimate - Number, 2016". UNAIDS. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Male prostitutes practice openly in Accra". Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  18. ^ Ennin Abbey, Emelia (2 July 2015). "'Man-woman' prostitute arrested by police in Accra". Graphic Online. Graphic Online. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  19. ^ "PHOTO: Male prostitute dressed as a Female arrested Agbogbloshie". Ghana. Ghana. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Gay Prostitutes Invade Accra". GhanaWeb. GhanaWeb. 30 November 2001. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  21. ^ Quashie, Sena (28 September 2015). "Sin City? How prostitution, illicit sex and immorality rule Ashaiman – News – Pulse". Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  22. ^ "Ghana Trafficking China's Prostitutes". West African Democracy Radio. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  23. ^ "Children active in commercial sex work in Ghana". 5 June 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  24. ^ Ame, Robert Kwame; Agbényiga, DeBrenna LaFa; Apt, Nana Araba (22 February 2011). Children's Rights in Ghana: Reality or Rhetoric?. Lexington Books. ISBN 9780739169100. Retrieved 23 January 2017 – via Google Books.
  25. ^ "Ghana". 6 March 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  26. ^ "Ghana is "paradise for paedophiles", says OneWorld". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. 8 July 2012. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  27. ^ Jasmine, Arku (2 July 2013). "Ghana news: Ghana not a sex tourism destination". Graphic Online. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  28. ^ US Department of State (27 July 2015). "Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 - Country Narratives - Ghana". European Country of Origin Information Network. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  29. ^ Sanne Terlingen (28 June 2012). "Paradijs voor Pedo's" (in Dutch). Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  30. ^ "IOM Study shows HIV vulnerability among female sex workers in Ghana". Newstime Africa. African Press Organization. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  31. ^ "Executive summary : Ghana" (PDF). Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  32. ^ Clarke, Prue (13 October 2005). "PM - Poverty in Ghana driving children into prostitution". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  33. ^ "Profile of a child sex worker". IRIN. 20 March 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  34. ^ Blay, Pius Amihere (31 August 2015). "Cape Coast tops child prostitution in Ghana- UNICEF Report". Ghana News.
  35. ^ Adams, Issaka (12 March 2014). "Vietnamese Prostitutes in Ghana Rescue: Ghana's Finest Undercover Journalist Exposes Sex Slavery Trade / Africa News". National Turk.
  36. ^ Trung, Pham (28 March 2014). "Closer look at rescue of Vietnamese women from Ghana brothel". Tuoitrenews.
  37. ^ "Six Vietnamese women rescued from Ghana brothel". Tuoitrenews. 21 March 2014.
  38. ^ "Chinese prostitutes invade Ghana". News Ghana. 21 March 2014.
  39. ^ "Vietnamese women forced into sex work in Ghana rescued". Thanh Nien News. 20 March 2014.
  40. ^ "Vietnamese girls rescued from sex trade in Takoradi". citifmonline. 7 March 2014.
  41. ^ Anas, Anas Aremeyaw (12 March 2014). "Anas' undercover story: Trafficked and abused – how girls were sold from one trafficker to the other". New Crusading Guide. Takoradi.
  42. ^ Ruha, Genevieve (8 March 2014). "Two Chinese Men Arrested In Takoradi For Trafficking Vietnamese Women There For Prostitution". GhanaNation.
  43. ^ "Trafficking in Persons Report 2010". US Departement of State. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  44. ^ "Ghana 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.