The Bible for instance, talks about whores who sit at the outskirts of towns and lure men into their beds—men of loose morals who cannot resist the temptation of the flesh.
Mention is made of Mary Magdalene who was about to be stoned but for the intervention of Jesus.
In every society there are women who sell this precious gift God has given to mankind for money. This gift called sex was originally meant for couples who are ready to raise a family. But that is not the case with some residents of Tema and its suburbs.
Ask anyone you meet in Ashaiman, a suburb of Tema, about ‘two-two line’, and even the youngest child would direct you. The interesting irony is that it is only a few metres away from the Ashaiman police station. Even though the area has residents who are living clean lives, there are portions of it that are lined with very small cubicles belonging to women who ply the trade of prostitution.
These rooms are easily identified by curtains hanging over opened doorways as signs of welcome to men. The richer ones have bigger compounds that are laced off from other compounds whereas the poorer ones have just their little rooms with torn door curtains. And as men walk pass, the ladies entice them by either calling out or by displaying their almost naked bodies.
They sleep mostly in the day and by 4 pm they are up preparing for the night. One sees them sweeping their rooms and compounds, and making ready by taking their baths in public bath houses in the neighborhood. Then they wear all kinds of seductive dresses and sit by their rooms, waiting for clients.
According to a resident who gave his name only as Thomas, “they are doing their job. They must make ends meet.” Thomas argues that they are even helping society because there are men who may be struggling to get women, and so they offer them ready sex for money. According to him they don’t have a fixed price, but bargain with anyone who enters.
“Any woman who does this job is dangerous, so you have to be careful when you get there,” he hinted. He said they love money so much that if they see a customer with lots of money they may take their fee, and after everything is done raise the alarm that the customer hasn’t paid them, and so the customer would be forced to pay again to avoid disgrace.
Around the prostitutes’ quarters, one would see young and energetic men hanging around and doing nothing. “Those are their body guards,” Thomas stated. And so the men stand alert to protect them any time they raise the alarm. Thomas further indicates that the women engaged in that business also have boyfriends they love. Mostly these are boys they sponsor and go to sleep with after the days business is over.
“These girls don’t feel shy. They don’t mind if you sleep with them right here before everybody,” another resident, Mark Kumado, said. According to him, they smoke, drink and are on every available drug, so they have lost their sense of shyness. As one passes through the lanes, one sees young children with some of them. “Some of them have kids”, Kumado remarked, and expressed worry that the young girls growing up in the area could be influenced by the prostitutes to join the trade.
The story in the Tema metropolis itself is a bit different, as there are no areas with prostitutes having their own apartments. The standard of living here is high with people living more decent lives, As such the prostitutes are shy to be identified with the trade. “Nobody in my area knows what I do. All they see is that I dress up and leave the house,” a young lady named Blessing echoed the story most of them told.
They are nice girls some of who come from different parts of the city, while others hail from outside the city, to ply their trade. They are mostly seen at Communities 7 and 8 where there are popular spots like Biggies, Vienna City, Seven Heavens, etc. These joints attract lots of people, including white men who drink and have fun, and so hovering around such areas is a good opportunity for one to attract a customer. Therefore, one sees them loitering around the spots and looking into the faces of men they suspect may also be out for fun.
When the night gets deeper, with very few men left in town, the women are eventually the only ones left, and therefore start approaching men who walk through such areas, because the clock is ticking and they become more aggressive in order not to lose the last chance of the night. At this point they may settle for any fee at all a client offers.
“Which one do you want, short or long?” Blessing asked an undercover reporter who spoke with her. “Short is 60 GH and long is 200.” She spoke plainly like a sales girl at a super market. But she was careful, unlike her distant cousins in Ashaiman. “I am not coming unless you tell me where you are taking me to,” she stressed. She sounded very much like a professional who was out there to do business. When asked her surname, she retorts, “forget about surname and let’s do business. I am not here for a job interview.”
Seth Tay, the Ashaiman District Commander of the Ghana Police Service, in a chat with this writer on the issue of prostitution, hinted at the frustration of the police in dealing with the menace. According to him, “when you send them to court, they end up walking” and explained further that the courts always set them free for want of evidence.
The Ashaiman District Crime officer also confirmed this assertion, citing an example of a raid they conducted in Tema Newtown recently. According to him, after raiding the prostitutes’ den, the polce found hundreds of condoms which they sent to court as evidence, but the judge threw the case out because, according to him, “the condoms are not enough evidence.”
The District Commander indicated that the police were gathering intelligence to raid the two-two line again with the hope that they may come across more concrete evidence relating to other crimes like drug possession and stealing, which could be prosecuted. According to him, “when we see, we will move in, but then it is the duty of the courts to determine the suspects’ fate.”
Ultimately, the difficulty in finding somebody guilty for such offences stems from the burden of proof; those girls are living in the structures and men come there to have sex with them. If you chance on them, what is the proof that they are doing it for money as it is a matter involving two consenting adults?
The story is told about a Nigerian Naval Officer who docked at the Tema harbour and came to patronize the girls but refused to pay after the act, so the girls beat him up and seized his passport. After reporting the incident to the Ashaiman police the naval officer ran away when he realized that pursuing the case would rather give him more problems.
Lawyer Akaba, a legal practitioner based in Accra thinks it is an justice not to punish the males who patronise the trade of prostitution, and only focusing on the women. He is of the view that society stands to benefit if the prostitutes are assisted medically and legally, and are made to pay tax.
“Prostitution goes on any way, but in a glorified form in all spheres of our society”, he observed. According to him, most people indulge in the act as a means for survival. Like the Lawyer, many other people this writer spoke to unanimously identified poverty as a key factor that needs to be dealt with decisively to tackle the menace. If that view is anything to go by then taking
the issue of girl-child education more seriously than we are doing currently, providing vocational training for young school leavers
and drop-outs, and pursuing the broad ideal of women’s economic empowerment beyond political rhetoric are the sure way
forward if the streets of Tema, Ashaiman and Accra should be rid of the flesh trade and its associated ailments.
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