Agence France Presse (11.15.01) - Tuesday, November 20, 2001
A drive launched by regional police has led to the arrest of
scores of prostitutes in Ghana's capital Accra and its
outskirts. The campaign is aimed at cleaning up Accra's
streets and fighting HIV/AIDS.
Officials in the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) told AFP that the
number of Ghanaians currently infected with HIV totals about
350,000. According to public health officials, the situation
has worsened considerably over the years, culminating in a
total of 45,514 reported AIDS cases at the end of last year.
Prostitutes say that although they know about HIV/AIDS and its
consequences, they have few options. "When we [prostitutes]
are criticized, some of us wonder whether those criticizing us
think we are not human beings. Do they think we are... unaware
of the dangers of going into rooms alone with a man we do not
know?" asked a 28-year old woman named Mary. "Especially when
for the past three years, when the spate of serial killings of
over 30 women gripped Accra? Or this issue of HIV/AIDS?"
Mary's job at a hair salon fetches her only $25 a month, too
little to sustain her and her two children. Prostitution was a
lot easier, she said. "The charges depend on the way business
has gone for that day or the type of client. On an average
day, I charge the equivalent of $5 for a short time and $20
overnight." While she insists that her client use condoms, she
admits to making exceptions on "bad" days.
Jane, another prostitute, said that she would have unprotected
sex for $7. According to Jane, it is all a part of
occupational risks. "HIV/AIDS is a risk that some of us
consider as an occupational hazard. It's like a driver having
an accident... There is no way any prostitute will go to bed
with a certified AIDS patient, but we all have occupational