Researcher Calls for Multi-Sectoral Approach to Address Child Prostitution

 A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr. Georgina Oduro, has called for a multi-sectoral approach to tackle the alarming trend of child prostitution in the country.

She, therefore, asked all stakeholders, including researchers and policy makers, to redouble their efforts to stem the tide of child prostitution, which is illegal in the country.

Dr. Oduro made these remarks while sharing her research findings on child prostitution at a dissemination seminar held by the Center for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) at the Main Auditorium. The study, she said, was conducted following media reports which were “without scientific evidence “on the increasing rate of child prostitution in Ghana.

The research, titled “Gold Between My Thighs: Examination of Child Prostitution in a Ghanaian Metropolis”, found out that children between the ages of 14 and 17 were indulging in child prostitution. The study revealed untold poverty, peer pressure, media influence, fashion trends and lack of accommodation as some of the challenges that push them into the scourge of child prostitution.

A total of 30 participants -20 child prostitutes and 10 stakeholders - were involved in the research, which was conducted in a coastal town. The young prostitutes, according to the study, stressed that their services were patronized by men who probably were not sexually satisfied with their wives.

The research used both ecological and radical feminist theories and found out that services rendered to clients were categorized into two: "short and sleep". The study further indicated that the child prostitutes charged a fee of GH 10 for “short", while the rate for "sleep" was between GH ¢25 and GHs¢ 50. The participants disclosed that both foreign and local tourists patronized their services.

However, the study pointed out that child prostitutes faced numerous challenges such as stigma, verbal and emotional abuse, discrimination and assaults by clients. According to the researcher, the participants complained bitterly about the big manhood of some of their clients, which sometimes caused them bruises and discomforts.

The study further highlighted some coping mechanisms of participants which included humour, reliance on alcohol and assistance from friends as participants’. The researcher recommended intensive sex education and the incorporation of health screening at festivals and other gatherings to combat child prostitution.

Speaking on " Health Dimensions of Child Prostitution and Adolescent Sexuality", the Director of University Health Services, Dr. Evans Ekanem, explained that child prostitutes were likely to have various health conditions like vaginal infections, syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis B and C, among others.

He recommended psychological counselling, reproductive health services, education, vaccination, early detection, nutrition and treatment as some of the interventions to prevent child prostitution at the community level.

Presenting on the topic "Child Sexual Exploitation and the Law", a lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Mrs. Bolanle Erinosho, took the audience through the Children's Act, the Criminal Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act, Human Trafficking Act and institutions charged with the mandate to deal with child prostitution.

Mrs Erinosho, therefore, called for robust laws on child sexual exploitation, improved awareness and reporting of crimes, improved financial resources for investigating agencies to fight the menace of child prostitution. The well-attended seminar brought together academia, traditional authorities, politicians, health professionals and students from both first and second cycle institutions.