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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                      

Republic of Ghana

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold and cocoa production, and individual remittances, are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around agriculture, which accounts for about 35% of GDP and employs about 55% of the work force, mainly small landholders.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Ghana

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Ghana.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


MPs Condemn Baby Prostitutes

Sylvanus Nana Kumi,  Daily Guide, 14 Mar 2008

[accessed 16 May 2011]

“Some of these young people, aged between 15 and 24 and mostly illiterates, engage in unprotected sex with different sexual partners for money to, among others, fend for themselves.  “Among them are children as young as 10 to 14 years old. A number of these vulnerable children end up being raped and becoming teenage mothers or acquiring sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS,” said Ms. Dansua.  The MP, a former journalist, was worried that Ghana was gradually gaining notoriety as a destination for child prostitution, a dent in the country’s international image, and condemned in no uncertain terms the proliferation of brothels in most parts of the country.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Sephra Smith, ECPAT International, 2014

[accessed 30 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Ghana. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 30 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children. Authorities did not effectively enforce the law. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16, and participating in sexual activities with anyone under this age is punishable by imprisonment for seven to 25 years. The law criminalizes the use of a computer to publish, produce, procure, or possess child pornography, punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of up to 5,000 penalty units (60,000 cedis or $11,500), or both.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 30 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 544]

The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children. Authorities did not effectively enforce the law. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16, and participating in sexual activities with anyone under this age is punishable by imprisonment for seven to 25 years. The law criminalizes the use of a computer to publish, produce, procure, or possess child pornography, punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of up to 5,000 penalty units (60,000 cedis or $11,500), or both.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 1997

[accessed 6 February 2011]

[26] The Committee is concerned by the absence of information and data concerning sexual abuse and exploitation, including in the family. In this regard, it is also worried about the fact that children aged between 14 and 18 years do not benefit from appropriate legal and social protection measures.

MOWAC to ensure implementation of laws on women and children

Ghana News Agency GNA, Ashaiman, 16 May 2009

[accessed 16 May 2011]

She noted that parenting must be taken seriously in the country to help curb the involvement of children and the youth in social vices which include child prostitution, armed robbery and cyber fraud.

Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, President and Founder of the 31st December Women's Movement complained about the increase in immorality among the youth and called on women to properly take up the task of morally educating their children.   She said instead of cautioning their children against such acts, some mothers rather encourage their children, especially girls into child prostitution as they compare them to others who they regarded as being successful.

Child Sex Market in Ghana-A cruel Crime‏

Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, Ghanadot, Accra, Jan 22, 2009

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Abena (real name withheld) is fourteen years old and lives with her mother in a kiosk around Adabraka, a suburb of the capital of Ghana, Accra. Her mother sells foodstuff during the day. According to Abena, she began going out with some of her friends in the evenings in 2004 to entertainment spots around Adabraka and Circle vicinities at that tender age [nine].

They also added that they do not like repeating the act because they believe it sometimes leads to familiarity and the tendency for the client to ask for free sex. Abena says she got into the business because her mother could not pay for her school fees and other expenses which led her to drop-out from the school.

Indeed, life has not been smooth sailing for the family. She therefore though it's prudent to engage in the 'night life' to make things easier for the family. Abena points out that sometimes she make about GH¢100.00 per night, but this not adequate to share with her mother and five siblings and also save part for rainy days. Also, she needs to keep her appearances beautifully to attract more customers.

Commentary: Child Prostitution

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, July 26, 2008

[access information unavailable]

Dozens alleged child prostitutes in Accra were recently arrested in a police raid from a brothel called “Soldier Bar.”  The brothel was reportedly shut down early this year for sexually exploiting children.  What baffles most people is how a brothel closed down could easily resurrect and be in brisk business.  This shows how orders are defied with impunity in our society.  Aside that, the arrest of these juveniles or minors demonstrates the extent to which children of today are getting corrupted and perverted.  The innocence of the child seems to be fading away as they are exposed daily to nudity, immorality and pornography.

A factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation in Ghana indicates that in Accra alone, there are about 125 brothels where young girls are forced into prostitution.

The dignity of a woman

Helena Selby - Ghanaian Chronicle, 22 Jul 2008

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Child prostitution, in most instances, takes place among teenage girls engaged in businesses such as the sale secondhand clothing, kayayos, hairdressing and petty trading as a means of survival. Some of them, due to their not getting sufficient money from their businesses at the end of the day, resort to prostitution at night, to supplement their meager incomes. They mostly live in ramshackle structures.

According Rebecca, a hairdresser who refused to mention her second name, since she had nobody to support her, during her apprenticeship, prostitution was the only alternative. According to her, she was only 16 years, and fortunately for her, her clients do not realize it due to her developed body. Intense business really begins at 10:00 p.m. and she charges between GH¢3 and GH¢5, when she really works well, however she reduces the price to GH¢2 when business is not going well.

For Mary, a secondhand clothes seller, who also withheld her second name, since she was still in the business, she sometimes goes in for gang sex. Gang sex occurs when one decides to go to bed with two or more men at a time. According to her, this process pays more, and that though she suffers terribly, she prefers it than taking one at a time, which pays very little.

According to both Rebecca and Mary, the use of contraceptives is out of the question, as apart from they wanting it that way, their clients most times prefer it that way.

MPs: AMA must demolish ‘soldier bar’, other brothels

Cynthia Boakye , The Statesman, 18/06/2008

[accessed 13 Aug  2013]

The Greater Accra Region alone is said to be housing about 125 brothels in which girl prostitutes who fall within the ages of 12 and 16 conduct brisk businesses at night.  These girls are said to be servicing about 20 male clients per night at a charge of GH¢3.00 for every three minutes spent at one of the most notorious brothels known as the 'Soldier Bar'. A similar practice is also going on at other places in the capital city of Accra.

Child Prostitutes are Children First

Shira Rubin, Public Agenda, Accra, 9 May 2008

[partially accessed 17 May 2011 - access restricted]

In January of this year the popular brothel known as "Soldier Bar," at Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, was raided, followed by the arrest of more than 160 mostly teenage prostitutes. Although the women taken into custody were registered into rehabilitation programs, today they are now back on the streets. 60 of the 160 confessed to being younger than 16; evidence of the need to end an activity that has been traditionally regarded with heavy silence. In battles against the hypocritical stigmas and medical dangers suffered by these young girls, legalization and unionization have been proposed in intellectual and political circles as a possible solution.

Ghana: Response to 'Thriving' Child Sex Industry Too Weak

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Accra, March 20, 2008

[accessed 13 March 2015]

The targets of the raid, which took place in February, were the 60 girls among them who were aged under 16 who had been recruited according to brothel manager Matthew Abanga to service the brothel's teenage clients.

"We drove the [young boys] away initially and did not allow them to come here, but after a while we realised we could make more money if we can meet their demands by supplying them with younger prostitutes of the same age, so we started recruiting child prostitutes as well," he said.  With an estimated 20, 000 children on the streets of Accra, many already engaged in child labour, Abanga and the owners of the brothel did not find it difficult recruiting child sex workers. "We knew it was wrong but the money was good," Abanga told IRIN.

CHRAJ says child prostitution is a threat to the nation

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation February 7, 2008

[access information unavailable]

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has expressed concern over the spate of child prostitution, saying that, the alarming situation where Ghana's children are being exploited for commercial sex, posed a great threat to the nation.

Teenage girls recruited for sex in Kumasi?

Network Herald, 11 December 2007

[accessed 16 May 2011]

The Garden city Kumasi, will not only be one of the centres to host Ghana 2008. It will also be a centre for adventure as teenage girls are recruited for the gratification of participants and officials.  Currently, a secret recruiting exercise slated for December 15, has been penciled down for girls who should either be 15 years of age or slightly older.  A source hinted Network Herald that the exercise will be extended to other match venues depending on the success of the December 15 exercise.

Ghanaian minister is on a mission

The Commonwealth Times, November 5th, 2007

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Ama, 15, lives in Accra, Ghana. She has no money, food or shelter. She dropped out of school five years ago. Her mother died from AIDS-related complications two years ago. She never knew her father.  Ama's tired, hungry and alone. She walks up to a man and asks him for $4 for food. In return, he wants sex. She obliges and takes the money. She repeats this ritual throughout the day. It's her only means of survival.  In the United States, prostitution is illegal and punishable by law. But in Ghana, said the Rev. Eric Kwasi Annan, scenarios like this happen every day, often involving girls younger than Ana, a fictional example. Why? Because it's legal, and it pays well. - sccp

Ghana: Rescuing the Child Prostitute, Whose Responsibility?

Wisdom Dzidedi Donkor, Public Agenda, Accra, 5 November 2007

[partially accessed 15 August 2011 - access restricted]

GHANA SITUATION - Eventhough Iam not aware of any current figure of the above in Ghana, the Ghanaian situation seems to be of no difference to the US and other countries as it is no secret at all to find hundreds of children ranging between the ages of 12 and 18 converging at places like Kwame Nkrumah Circle (Kotobabi trotro station, near Freddies Corner), Soldier bar, Abeka Lapaz (Double man spot) Kasoa (Behind the public toilet off the Obom road), Newtown, Cantonments several other places by 7.30pm invloved in Child prostitution.

Committee on child labour, trafficking inaugurated

Ghana News Agency GNA, Kumasi, Sept 7, 2007

[accessed 6 February 2011]

A 21-member steering committee for an International Labour Organisation (ILO) project on combating child labour and trafficking was inaugurated in Kumasi on Thursday.

Dr. Slyvester Sakyiamah, Executive Director of the Social Research Associates, said the Kumasi Metropolis had become the destination for most of the children trafficked from the Upper West, Upper East, Northern regions and other parts the country. He said the children were found to be cart pushers, bar-keepers, head porters, hawkers and domestic servants among other exploitative jobs. Dr. Sakyiamah said due to the nature of the work they engaged in, the lack of shelter and better conditions of life, some of them become street children, who were easily lured into robbery, drug peddling, child prostitution resulting in socio-economic problems.

Northern, Upper East & West Are the Suppliers of Street Kids in Kumasi

Oppong Baah, Public Agenda, Accra, 21 May 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 16 May 2011]

On a good day a porter can earn between ¢ 30, 000 and ¢ 50, 000. On bad days, however, a porter has to fall on a colleague to have something to eat. The girls are compelled to satisfy the sexual desires of their male counterparts to get food to eat. Due to such instances a number of young girls become pregnant and have to go back home.

Poverty in Ghana driving children into prostitution

Reporter: Prue Clarke, Transcript from PM, Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC, 13 October 2005

[accessed 16 May 2011]

In the West African nation of Ghana poverty is driving a growing number of children onto the streets to live.  Without money or a job most of those children are eventually forced into prostitution.  That influx of desperate children is earning Ghana a reputation on paedophile websites as a safe destination for child sex.

Ama's story is typical. Children are driven from home by the effects of poverty.  With no education, no money and no protection from violence, almost all of Ghana's street girls, and a growing number of boys, are left no choice but to sell themselves. - sccp

Who is to Blame for Our Youth On the Streets?

Joe Kingsley Eyiah, University of Toronto, Canada, GhanaWeb, 13 August 2003

[accessed 16 May 2011]

TYPES OF STREET YOUTH - 2. About ninety-five percent (95%) of street youth come under the category of homeless. In Ghana, many street youth between the ages of 12 and 20 are without homes to turn in during the night. They sleep in front of stores and in abandoned motor vehicles. These youth have traveled from the countryside mainly to fend for themselves in the cities and urban towns due to lack of family support. Poverty or economic dislocation has driven them from their homes. Unfortunately, some single mothers have even encouraged their teen daughters to go to the streets to make ends meet. Such vulnerable young girls have landed in prostitution and have become homeless, hanging around with pimps whose help is just of exploitation of the children.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – GHANAGhana has not yet developed a plan on CSEC and is only beginning to engage in activities to combat CSEC. CSEC is growing in Ghana and there have been reports of the recruitment of children in Ghana to neighboring countries for sexual exploitation. Child prostitution and sex tourism are also on the increase, especially in the Central Region and the capital, Accra. Ghana’s soaring numbers of street children are the main victims.  Other vulnerable groups are child hawkers, domestics, and children from poor homes.

ECPAT: What Makes Children Vulnerable to Sexual Exploitation?

ECPAT International

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 14 September 2011]

HARMFUL TRADITIONS OR CUSTOMS - In some countries, sexual exploitation of children is thinly disguised as religious practice. In Ghana young girls, usually under the age of 10, are given to the local fetish shrine to atone for offenses allegedly committed by a member of the girl's family. In this traditional practice, known as Trokosi, a girl becomes the property of the fetish priest and must provide sexual services as well as other labor for him. The Ghanian Parliament criminalized this practice in 1998. However, it is estimated that there are still 4,500 girls bound to various shrines by this practice.

Child labor prevails in Ghana

afrol News (African News Agency), 31 October 2001

[accessed 16 May 2011]

Child prostitution also exists, although prohibited by law, according to the IFCTU report. "Young Ghanaian girls are lured into prostitution by promises of work as domestic servants.

GAMBIA-GHANA: Sex slave children trafficked by Ghanaian fishermen

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, BANJUL, 26 February 2004

[accessed 13 March 2015]

Gambian authorities said this week they were questioning a group of 63 Ghanaian children, most of whom were girls who had been trafficked into the country for use as “sex slaves” and unpaid domestic servants. Immigration officials said on Wednesday that they had cracked a child trafficking ring that was bringing in the teenagers into the country illegally to work for a community of Ghanaian fishermen living on the coast.

Information about Street Children - Ghana [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for Anglophone West Africa on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 21-24 October 2003, Accra, Ghana

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 16 May 2011]

CONSTRAINTS AND CHALLENGES - Girls are less likely than boys to have any form of education, are known to be less aware than boys about sexually transmitted diseases, despite their increasing involvement in commercial sex work. This puts them at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and of unwanted pregnancy, which helps to explain the large numbers of second-generation babies born on the street to parents who are themselves street children

The Alternative Africa: Street Children in Ghana - part 2

The International Child And Youth Care Network CYC, Issue 25, • February 2001

[accessed 16 May 2011]

SURVIVAL - The girl children have to adopt extra survival strategies. Once the age of puberty has been reached many of them will have boy minders who will demand sexual favors as payment for protection. Many small girls will use sex for survival in terms of supplementing their income. It is too easy to call them prostitutes. A prostitute is for me a professional sex worker. A 14-year old who offers sex for food and a few shillings to buy a length of cloth is not a prostitute.

The West Africa Aids Foundation (WAAF)

[Last access date unavailable]

Preliminary research studies has been conducted by WAAF on the most recent phenomenon of Child Sex Tourism which understudies child and youth exposure to HIV/AIDS through labor participation (i.e. Child Prostitution) in the Tourism industry. Findings confirmed our suspicions that STI’s are a common occurrence among sexually active children. Continuous research will be undertaken to ascertain the underlying causes, in order to find tangible solutions to protect the health interest of children exposed to early commercial sexual exploitation




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - GHANA [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2008

[accessed 16 May 2011]

In addition to Kayayes, the ILO study found girls, some as young as 11, exploited through prostitution in Accra brothels as well as on streets, beaches, bars, market areas, restaurants and nightclubs. They sometimes organise themselves into groups and select a “queen mother” – who could be as young as 16 – to facilitate their prostitution for a commission. If the group operates from a bar, restaurant or nightclub, employees at these establishments also act as agents and receive a commission. Not only Ghanaian children are found in prostitution, as the study identified approximately 200 girls, some aged as young as nine, from all over West Africa in Accra brothels.

The ILO study also looked into child sex tourism, which takes place predominantly in coastal areas in Accra. Boys and girls are affected, and it was discovered that staff in certain hotels receive a commission for recommending “rent boys”, some as young as 12, to hotel residents.

Another study, undertaken in 2006 by the Ghana NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), the ECPAT group in the country, further indicated that Ghana is earning a reputation on paedophile websites as a ‘safe’ destination for child sex. It pointed to high rates of sexual exploitation of boys in tourism, particularly in the central region of Ghana. The situation seems to have worsened dramatically, as formerly the children (mainly boys) were enticed into sexual acts, while local boys deliberately hang around hotels and guesthouses soliciting foreign tourists. Members of the Coalition witnessed boys in Cape Coast handing out ‘business cards’ to tourists looking for sex. Apparently, 70 per cent of their clients were males, while 30 per cent were females. These include locals and Africans (from the sub-region); mention was made of Ghanaians, Nigerians and Liberians. Those outside the sub-region were cited as coming from China, the Americas and Europe. The sexual exploitation of boys by tourists and locals is often overlooked due to Ghanaian society’s deep aversion to homosexuality, and child victims usually refuse to make reports to the authorities due to fear of stigmatisation.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 6 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - There are reports of children being given away, leased, or sold by their parents to work in various sectors. Children were also reportedly sold into involuntary servitude for either labor or sexual exploitation. Ghana is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked children. Internationally, children are trafficked to neighboring countries for forced labor, and young girls are trafficked to the Middle East as domestic workers and to both the Middle East and Europe for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - Child prostitution was a problem. The ILO/IPEC organized workshops throughout the year on the problem of increased child prostitution in the tourism industry and to combat the problem. During the year a government minister told hotel administrators to prevent adults from bringing children to hotels for sexual exploitation.


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