The dignity of a woman

By Helena Selby - Ghanaian Chronicle

The dignity of a woman has always been believed to be her sexuality, however though its worth was priceless in the old days, the perception about the sexuality of women nowadays, seems to be the opposite of the notion of the old days. Girls are stripped of their sexual dignity, at a tender age, in a way that makes it difficult for them to identify their role of womanhood in society, at a latter age.

In Ghana, and many parts of Africa, prostitution is one of the social vices that is really despised, especially in the case of children. Apart from child marriage, which is considered to be a major form of defilement of children, child prostitution can also seen to be the worst form of defilement.

The practice of child prostitution has become an epidemic in many parts of the world, owing to the fact that its invasion of societies has been faster than people ever dreamt of. The Encarta Dictionary defines child prostitution as the act of a child engaging in sexual intercourse, or performing other sexual acts in exchange for money, or offering another person for such purposes.

Though less visible in the Ghana, its rapid spread in many parts of the capital of Ghana, Accra, has been rather mind-boggling. In Ghana places where child prostitution is practiced, include the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Soldier Bar, Abeka Lapaz, Kasoa, Newtown, Cantonments, near the Togo Embassy, Adabraka, and several other places, usually between 10:00pm to about 3:00am.

Who are the victims?

Victims of such atrocities might differ from nation to nation, since every nation has a constitution, which indicates at which age one is considered a child. In Ghana one below the age of 18 is considered to be a child, and cannot make important decisions, concerning his or her life, on her on accord.

Mostly children under 18 years, from very poor families, fall prey to this abuse, as well as ignorant children from villages, and children of illiterate guardians.

More often, ignorant children, especially those in the villages, are lured into this practice by some of their colleagues, who visit them in the village and convince them of a better life in the city, but are actually practicing prostitution. They, as a result, come realise it is all a lie, and that they have to sleep with men for money.

According to the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, DC, child prostitution is offensive and completely unacceptable. In Asia alone, according to experts on the subject, more than one million young boys and girls are engaged in commercial sexual activity. And indications are that in every part of the world, the number of children being harmed in this way is growing.

Child prostitutes are found in virtually every country, including the United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. There is an apparent increasing demand, globally; part of it fed by the fear of AIDS, and the naive belief that younger sex partners are free of disease, while some also believe that having sex with a virgin would cure one of the AIDS disease. While child prostitution is hardly unique to Thailand, its existence is repugnant to the Thai people.

What is the activity like?

Naturally, from the very onset of time, women always had the desire and obligation to protect their sexuality, for the sake of their husband to be. However the evolution of the world, the hardships, so called modernity, and the cruelty of mankind, has compelled many people to adopt some immoral aspects of life, just to get for themselves, a better life.

Child prostitution, in most instances, takes place among teenage girls engaged in businesses such as the sale secondhand clothing, kayayos, hairdressing and petty trading as a means of survival. Some of them, due to their not getting sufficient money from their businesses at the end of the day, resort to prostitution at night, to supplement their meager incomes. They mostly live in ramshackle structures.

According Rebecca, a hairdresser who refused to mention her second name, since she had nobody to support her, during her apprenticeship, prostitution was the only alternative. According to her, she was only 16 years, and fortunately for her, her clients do not realize it due to her developed body. Intense business really begins at 10:00 p.m. and she charges between GH¢3 and GH¢5, when she really works well, however she reduces the price to GH¢2 when business is not going well.

For Mary, a secondhand clothes seller, who also withheld her second name, since she was still in the business, she sometimes goes in for gang sex. Gang sex occurs when one decides to go to bed with two or more men at a time. According to her, this process pays more, and that though she suffers terribly, she prefers it than taking one at a time, which pays very little.

According to both Rebecca and Mary, the use of contraceptives is out of the question, as apart from they wanting it that way, their clients most times prefer it that way.

They also have the notion that sweets are best eaten raw, and that the wrappers or label have to be taken off first, before one can joy it. Sensation and satisfaction, apart from money, are things that they really look out, for they emphasized.

Why the existence of child prostitution?

Every action has a motive behind it. Apart from ignorance, on the side of some these children which in turn makes indulge in such acts, poverty seems to be one of the greatest causes of child prostitution.

In the northern regions extreme poverty compels the young ones to migrate to the south to work as kayayos or in other exploitative work. After a long day, without an earning, they opt for nothing than to go their male counterpart, or any other man in need of sex, to earn some money for food for the night.

Sometimes, the inhumane, immorality and inconsideration of certain men woo children into child prostitution. Imagine Nana Ama, who is only 15 years, and living in Accra without anybody to fend for her, since she is an orphan, and never knew her father, except her mother who died recently.

She had no money, food or shelter, and had also dropped out of school some years ago. Nana Ama was tired, hungry and alone, when she walked up to a man to ask him for GH¢1 for food. In return, the man wanted sex.

She was compelled to give in, in order to get the money. From that moment onwards she thought, if doing this could generate money for her survival, then she was ever-ready to do it, turning her into a child prostitute.

Rural-urban migration and peer pressure can also be considered as factors of child prostitution. Most villagers have the notion that it is easier to make in life in the city, than in the village.

They are more convinced when their peers, engaged in prostitution in the city, display their earning when they visit the village. As a result they run to the city at a tender age, even if they live a better life in the village.

To their surprise, they come to see the opposite of what they imagined. Owing to this they in turn engage in the same activity as their peers, so as to earn money for their survival in the city.

Unfortunate children also fall prey, when madams and pimps convince them and bring them from the village, and give them to older men for money.

Outcome of child prostitution

Apart from it blackening the image of the country, contracting of sexually transmitted diseases is one of the main outcomes. As a result of many of them not using contraceptives, they easily catch sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like syphilis, gonorrhea and the dreadful one, HIV/AIDS.

According to research 200 people are infected with HIV/AIDS everyday, though people contract it from various aspects, some of these people, if truth be told, contract it through child prostitution.

Teenage pregnancy has also cropped up at an alarming rate, since children are the ones involved, and without any form of protection.

Imagine a child giving birth to a child, the poor standard of living, stunted growth in the children, and the vicious cycle of poverty will never be broken, since the children might not have anyone to change their way of life, and also the mother is not involved in any decent job, and has no one to count on.

According to the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C., child prostitution is a growing problem worldwide, is a criminal activity, and serves as a catalyst for further criminal association in other fields.

The helpless children are turned into mere pawns in criminal syndicates, which lead to a steady deterioration of morals. Conclusion

Children are gift from God; it is also be gift to mankind and we must learn to treat them the way they deserve. The criteria for measuring a nation's future, most times, depend on children. However, it must be noted that a nation, with a its generation of children being wayward, out of control and exploited sexually, has the possibility of its future being derailed. There is the need for everybody to be obliged to learn to treat our future leaders with care, so as to leave the future of the nation in good hands.