Mon, 15 Dec 2003 Feature Article

EDITORIAL: Legalise Prostitution!

EDITORIAL: Legalise Prostitution!

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE GHANA AIDS Commission (GAC) at a recent celebration of World Aids Day or some similar event advocated the licensing of our ladies of the night.

Professor Amoah who ade the call, following representation to that effect from a British professor, cited Senegal as a country that has been able to put the lid on the rate of HIV/AIDS infection through such legalisation of the female practitioners of the sex trade.

He also referred to districts specifically set aside in some advanced countries and labelled “red districts” where ladies who sell their bodies reside.

The advantage of such liberalism, he said, is the opportunity to subject such women to periodic medical examinations as a condition for the renewal of their licences.

Additionally, they could be sensitised to the danger of allowing access to some men who refuse to use the condom in the name of maximising their pleasure from the act, at whatever price.

Ordinarily, the Gye Nyame Concord would not support such a call. But these are not ordinary times. We have heard reports of countries where the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is over 50 percent, with the productive age group dying off and leaving their children to aged, and feeble grandparents who in our tradition should be looking forward to decent burials from their children and grandchildren.

So if steps such as the legalisation of prostitution could halt the tide and ultimately prevent Ghana from experiencing such a debacle, so be it.

In a recent BBC interview, American Secretary of State Colin Powell described AIDS as now a national security issue and not a mere health problem, as whole communities and cities in the Third World are being wiped out over night.

Sex is the major avenue for transmission of HIV. And the number of ladies offering themselves as a primary means of survival or as a supplement is increasing by the day.

The nightly offering market at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra is already proverbial.

In addition to this a drive through choice residential areas like Labone, Cantonments, Osu, Ridge, Airport Residential etc. from 8pm upwards reveals hordes of young ladies in their prime standing under trees and dark corners waiting to be picked up by whoever takes a fancy to any of them.

This same scene is reportedly replicated in virtually all the regional capitals and some of the district capitals. That obviously is the way to perdition, and tough minded and realistic actions need to be taken and now.

There are occasions when playing the ostrich helps serves a purpose, but not with the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

May be when a cure is found we can resume our puritanical garb once again.

This is, however, no call for the abandonment of other forms of prevention. Our primary, JSS and SSS pupils need to be severely drilled in the wisdom of abstinence.

Actually, abstinence should be the only message on radio and television. That of condom use should be taken directly to the target audiences – tertiary institution campuses, market places, work places, places where it is obvious that people there are already beyond the pale of abstinence.

Let us not be deceived by the fact that retroviral drugs are becoming cheaper at the hugely subsidized rates that drug-manufacturing companies have been cajoled into selling them in the Third World.

As in all health situations, prevention is always better than cure. And for the HIV/AIDS pandemic it is definitely the beginning of wisdom!