The report of the arrests yesterday of some sex workers by the Adabraka police, in Accra, would probably not generate more than fleeting interest except for two factors: firstly, one of those arrested is a teenage girl; secondly, eight men were also arrested for allegedly patronising the services offered by the prostitutes.
The 28 women arrested by the Adabraka Police in the early hours of yesterday, on suspicion of prostitution were said to be aged between 14 and 32.
The Adabraka Police have given assurance that there are efforts to clamp down on the activities of sex workers because prostitution is illegal in Ghana and the police will leave no stone unturned to check it.
They have cautioned that both men and women should desist from either practising prostitution or patronising prostitutes. The stern warning is that both the practitioners and their clients will be arrested. We find this warning encouraging.
The practice of arresting only prostitutes and not their clients has often been criticized as unfair and unrealistic in that it is not helpful to the campaign to stop prostitution. If it is illegal, then both should face sanctions. If it is only the ‘seller’ who is to be arrested and not the ‘buyer’ as well, there will be no deterrence for the men who make prostitution lucrative.
Another reason why both parties need to have the threat of arrest hanging over them is the new and reportedly growing phenomenon of male prostitution. If there are penalties for prostitution, then all those engaging in it should face punishment.
We commend the Adabraka Police for arresting not only the sex workers, but also their clients. The arrest of the ‘buyers’ will signal that the police mean business.
It can be argued that it is the fact that sex buyers think they are free to patronise the services without fear of arrest that has ensured a reportedly steady and rising stream of young women joining the business.
For example, some of the formerly respectable residential areas in Accra have now been virtually turned into ‘red-light districts’.
People who at night happen to drive the short distance between the Danquah Circle and the Cantonments Roundabout will be left in no doubt that prostitution is a thriving business.
One cannot rule out the fact that the prostitutes feel emboldened to come and flaunt themselves there night after night because there are always ‘kerb-crawlers’ around, wealthy men driving around looking for prostitutes.
So, we suggest that apart from the men arrested in town, there is also the need to arrest some of the kerb-crawlers in the residential areas to send a strong message out.
In the case of the 14-year-old, of course we believe that the police will go by the legal requirement that says either her parents or a social worker should be present when her statement is taken.
If she ends up in a juvenile court, we hope that the court will investigate thoroughly the circumstances leading to the decision of a 14-year-old to choose prostitution when her peers are enjoying their teen years, grappling with nothing more arduous than Junior Secondary School studies and such teenage preoccupations.
The court should ascertain whether it is rather the parents who should be facing the rigours of the law.