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09.10.2014 Opinion

Offences Against Public Morals

By Daily Guide
Offences Against Public Morals
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IN EVERY society, human behaviour and practices are legitimately regulated to protect and uphold maximum standards of decency and civility.  Moral laws are needed to prescribe how people are expected to conduct themselves in public places so as to observe some level of disciple and social conformity.

These may include laws against public indecencies, prostitution , nudity or obscenity, lewdness and so forth.  Since protecting and safeguarding the society against immorality and indecency is very essential, the Criminal Code (Act 29/60) has dedicated a portion of its content to treat offences against public morals.

What are some of the offences that corrupt and derail basic standards of societal morals?

Soliciting For Immoral Purposes
We have always heard and seen the law enforcement agencies, especially the police, arresting persons who stood by the road side to solicit for immoral purposes. Yes, Section 275 of the Criminal Code bans any person from persistently soliciting or importuning clients for prostitution or for any other immoral purposes.

Trading In Prostitution
FLASHBACK! 31 Commercial Sex Workers arrested by the Cantoments police in Accra

Since prostitution is a criminal offence, anyone who either lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution also offends the law. Similarly, if a person abets or aids a prostitute for the purposes of gains, that person is equally guilty of trading in prostitution. For example, offering your apartment or part of it at a fee, for the purposes of prostitution presupposes that you are living off the earnings of prostitution. In this case, you are considered by law to be trading in prostituting.

Note: It is irrelevant whether the sexual offers were personally not given. What matters is for anyone to engage in any service that seeks to promote in full or part of the act of prostitution, as source of income.

Keeping A Brothel
How does the criminal law define brothel? Any premises or set of rooms in any premises kept for the purposes of prostitution.  A brothel applies to a place resorted to by both sexes for the purpose of prostitution and not to one particular sex alone.

Any person who manages or assists in the management of a brothel commits an office. This does not exclude a landlord, tenant or dweller of any premises who knowingly permits his premises or part of the premises to be used as a brothel or for the purposes of habitual prostitution.

Allowing Under-Aged In Brothels 
Children under sixteen years are not allowed or permitted by law to either reside or frequent brothels. Hence, persons who deliberately or ignorantly permit children under this age to reside in premises used for the purposes of prostitution commits an offence and liable to punishment.

Publication Or Sale Of Obscene Materials
The Criminal Code of Ghana debars anyone from publishing or offering for sale, any material that has the tendency to deprave societal morals. Any publication that is unnecessarily and improperly calculated to excite passions or corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences can be held for promoting obscenity.

Obscenity also involves having in your possession, putting into circulation or publicly exhibiting obscene drawings, prints, posters, photographs or any other related obscene objects. This means that downloading indecent materials and images from the internet as is often done, also amounts to a criminal offence, even though there are no plans to publish or circulate the obscene objects.

This is because downloading constitutes a pseudo- photograph (would-be). Moreover, downloading in effect is making a new copy of the original material. Also possessing a material of obscene nature amounts to a criminal offence, whether or not there is an intent to circulate it.

If for the purposes of trading or sale in obscene publication, any person imports, conveys or exports materials related to obscenity, that person also commits a criminal offence.

Doing An Obscene Business
Anybody who engages fully or an aspect of a business that seeks to promote or assist in obscenity also violates the law.  This includes its advertisement or any form of its business.

Indecent Inscriptions
Writings and engravings that are made often have certain regulations governing them and any person who inscribes a drawing or written matter of an indecent or obscene nature to public view also commits an offence. Also, it is a criminal offence to employ the services of another to inscribe or produce an indecent picture to be displayed or exhibited publicly.

By ASP Effie Tenge

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