In August, after an entertaining event at Jamestown in the city of Accra, during the “Homowo” festival on a Saturday, we went to Osu to climax the occasion with a night to remember roaming popular joints on the streets of Osu. At the “Osu Night Market” we met Akweley, and two Ivorian friends, they were sex workers eager to offer us “booty for dollar”. Akweley, an SHS dropout has been a sex worker for 4 years now; her other two colleagues (also sex workers in Ivory Coast) arrived in Ghana this year June looking for a new environment to mark as a territory.
Prostitution in Ghana is illegal but widespread so much that many Ghanaians are unaware that it is prohibited. There are brothels in most towns, cities, and ports. Akweley and her friends are “roamers”, they do not belong to a brothel. They work on the streets, bars, and hotels. On why she chose this profession, Akweley stated she was always a victim of sexual abuse because of her curvy stature. She never knew her dad and lost her mum at age 14. Men won’t offer her any financial support without tasting her cookies; with time she hardened up and joined the sex trade.
“It’s an indecent profession and a risky job, I know. And sincerely, I know my mother’s spirit won’t be proud of what I have become, but for people like me, it’s the only way of survival. Someday, I may find a miracle to a better life, but for now, this is what I do to eat. I’m not proud of myself but it puts food on my table,” Akweley said.
Over the years, Ghana is gradually establishing itself as a destination for sex tourism, and high rates of unemployment and poverty in the country are believed to the cause of growth in the sex industry; a fraction of sex workers are campaigning for legalization. Sex workers occasionally face violence from customers. They are also often abused by law enforcement officers. These included intimidation, extortion, threats, and raids. Sometimes, they have sex with police officers to avoid prosecution.
Ghanaian afrobeat’s singer, Fuse ODG’s new musical project, Road to Ghana Vol. One showcases a positive light on the evolution of Ghanaian music. The award-winning afrobeat singer is amongst those calling out to Africans and the Diaspora to return home and rebuild the continent. His current project, This Is New Africa (TINA) Festival seeks to unite Africa & the Diaspora through music, and he’s been very significant in promoting Ghana’s Year of Return campaign.
“Osu” is a track off Fuse ODG’s EP, Road To Ghana Vol. One. The song shares an intriguing narrative of prostitution on the streets of Osu. Osu town is probably the heartbeat of entertainment in Accra, and at night, Osu glitters, but don’t be fooled by the glitz and glamour, being at a place at the wrong time could be your worst nightmare.
“Osu has a great reputation for people enjoying themselves and having fun but at the back of that, there’s also the reality of these girls who have to work as sex workers on the streets to get to where they want to be in life. Most of them use this job as a stepping stone to build their dream life. No one talks about what they go through to survive the streets, and I felt like using this as a channel to speak for them and also highlight the fact that, these women need protection,” Fuse explains in an exclusive interview with Flash Africa.
“It’s something that people usually frown upon but it’s about time we started to understand where they are coming from and see how we can help protect them, maybe the government can put up a legal structure to protect them, because at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, people ply the trade, “he adds.
To people like Fuse ODG, sex workers are human beings and they deserve their rights, regardless of their profession. Though it’s a controversial debate, Fuse ODG believes sex workers need to be protected by the law to make the sex trade environment safer for them and their clients as well. In June 2015, Zimbabwe’s constitutional court ruled that the police could not arrest sex workers…should other African countries, like Ghana, do the same?