What is the Legal Status of Prostitution in Ghana?
Prostitution in Ghana is illegal and punishable by law. Although the practice is widespread and the law is rarely enforced, the act of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money, goods, or other forms of payment remains a criminal offense. In addition to the prohibition of prostitution, Ghana also has laws against sex trafficking, child exploitation, and the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
What are the Laws and Penalties Surrounding Prostitution in Ghana?
Several laws and penalties apply to those who engage in prostitution or facilitate it in Ghana. These include:
- Criminal Code 1960 (Act 29) – Sections 274-279 of the Criminal Code address prostitution and related offenses. Offenders may face imprisonment of up to five years and/or fines.
- Human Trafficking Act, 2005 (Act 694) – This act criminalizes sex trafficking, including the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of persons for the purpose of exploitation through prostitution. Offenders can face imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.
- Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560) – The act prohibits child prostitution and the exploitation of children for sexual purposes. Violators can face imprisonment of up to ten years.
- Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) – This act addresses the spread of sexually transmitted infections and requires those found guilty of spreading infections to undergo medical treatment.
How is Prostitution Referred to Locally in Ghana?
In Ghana, prostitution is commonly referred to as ashawo or ashawo work. This term is derived from the Nigerian Pidgin English word ashawo, which means prostitute. The term is often used in a derogatory manner to describe women who engage in prostitution or who are perceived to be engaging in prostitution.
What is the History of Prostitution in Ghana?
Prostitution has been present in Ghana for centuries, with historical records indicating that the practice was common during the pre-colonial era. However, it was during the colonial period that prostitution became more visible, as European men engaged in relationships with local women, leading to the growth of comfort zones and brothels.
Following Ghana’s independence in 1957, prostitution continued to grow, particularly in urban areas. Economic challenges and increasing migration from rural areas to cities have contributed to the expansion of the sex industry. In recent years, Ghana has also become a destination for sex tourism, with foreign tourists engaging in sexual activities with local prostitutes.
What Government Laws and Resources Address Prostitution in Ghana?
Although prostitution is illegal in Ghana, the government has implemented several laws and resources to address the issue and protect vulnerable populations. Some of these include:
- Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection – This ministry is responsible for promoting gender equality, protecting the rights of children, and addressing social issues, including prostitution and human trafficking. The ministry works with various stakeholders to implement policies and programs aimed at reducing the prevalence of prostitution and supporting victims.
- Anti-Human Trafficking Unit – Established within the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service, this unit is responsible for investigating cases of human trafficking, including sex trafficking and child prostitution. The unit also collaborates with international organizations and law enforcement agencies to combat trafficking and provide support to victims.
- Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) – Several NGOs operate in Ghana to address the issue of prostitution and provide support to victims. These organizations offer services such as counseling, healthcare, vocational training, and legal assistance to help individuals leave the sex industry and reintegrate into society.
In conclusion, prostitution is illegal in Ghana and is punishable by law. Despite this, the practice remains widespread and largely unregulated. The government and various organizations are working to address the issue and protect vulnerable populations, but more work is needed to eradicate prostitution and provide support to those affected by the sex industry.