Poverty and the lure of easy money constitute a volatile mix of ingredients for prostitution, and in Takoradi, the two factors are attracting a significant number of underage girls into the profession, pushing the price of commercial sex with the girls to as low as 50 Ghana pesewas.
The girls, made up largely of schools dropouts, migrants from rural areas and children from broken homes, are normally found in the Zenith area of the central business district and along some of the hotels dotted along beaches of Takoradi.
But they often squat at structures put up at the Essipong Stadium by the Chinese workers who put up the stadium.
A casual count of the girls by “The Finder” came up with at least 60 girls; but the actual total is estimated by social workers to be far higher.
When the issue was put to her at a programme last week, the Minister for Gender and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, expressed dismay at the information, but promised to liaise with rights groups and stakeholders to tackle the issue.
She said although she was aware of the increasing spate of commercial sex business in Takoradi, she had not heard of sex being offered for 50 pesewas.
On how she was going to deal with the issue, she said although her ministry had a funding problem, she was confident education could be key in reducing the incidence of underage prostitution. “In fact there isn’t any funding to address the issue of child prostitution, what we can only do is to continue with awareness creation with our development partners,” she stated.
Meanwhile the Department of Social Welfare, which first brought the issue to public attention, say it, has put together an in-depth programme to tackle the growing menace of child prostitutes in the oil city.
In an interview, an official of the department, Mr. Ernest Peter Tweneboah said based on studies carried out by the department, it has set up a new Child Programme Committee (CPC) to track minors engaged in the sex trade. The goal, he said, was to fashion out programme to address child prostitution in Takoradi.