Prostitution, often referred to as the “oldest profession,” has evolved over centuries and has now found its way into the lives of the Youth in Ghana. In recent times, the traditional term has taken on new forms such as “hookups” or “slay queens,” reflecting changing dynamics in society. Despite the legal ramifications in Ghana, a growing number of Ghanaian Youth, mostly students are resorting to commercial sex work for financial, material, and emotional reasons.
Prostitution In The Bible
Biblical narratives depict two distinct categories of prostitutes. The first group comprises women who engaged in sexual transactions either for financial gain or personal favors, often as a means of survival when lacking familial protection. These women, sometimes adorned in lavish attire and jewels, sought to attract men (Ezek 16:8-26). Rahab, a well-known figure, exemplifies this category, aiding Joshua’s spies in escaping Jericho (Josh 2).
The second type of prostitute, commonly referred to as a “sacred” or “temple” prostitute, participated in sexual acts within a religious context, catering to worshipers of fertility deities. Canaanite gods such as Baal and Asherah, later replaced by Osiris and Isis, were believed to bestow fertility upon the land and its people. Hosea’s prophetic warnings (Hos 4:10-19) caution against engaging in rituals involving temple prostitutes linked to these Canaanite fertility gods. King Josiah of Judah further took measures to dismantle structures associated with “male prostitutes” serving in the worship of these deities (2 Kgs 23:7).
Throughout the Old Testament, Israel’s unfaithfulness is metaphorically likened to prostitution (Isa 23:16; Jer 3:6; Ezek 16; Nah 3:4). In the New Testament, Babylon, symbolizing the Roman Empire, is characterized as a shameless prostitute enticing individuals and nations into alliances (Rev 17).
The Mosaic Law explicitly prohibited prostitution, with severe consequences for transgressors. Leviticus 19:29 condemned the practice, allowing for the execution of offenders by stoning (Deut 22:21). A priest’s daughter involved in prostitution faced the penalty of being burned to death (Lev 21:9). Monetary gains acquired through prostitution were strictly forbidden as temple offerings (Deut 23:18).
The Modern Day Shift to Internet Prostitution
In a society where financial pressures are escalating, even on students, some have turned to unconventional means to cope. While some have identified their inner entrepreneurial capabilities and are doing so well for themselves in the world of business, some have also chosen the easier way out; selling their body in exchange for currency. A brief study conducted on selected university campuses has uncovered a rise in internet prostitution among Ghanaian youths. The traditional methods, such as hanging out in pubs and nightclubs, have been augmented by a digital presence on social media platforms, showcasing a disturbing trend.
Motivations and Strategies
Financial burdens drive students to engage in sex work, as revealed by Grace, a level 400 student from the University of Ghana. Many argue that survival takes precedence over legal consequences, citing historical roots of prostitution. Students have devised strategies to combine academics and sex work, transforming hostel rooms into makeshift brothels and negotiating prices based on various factors.
Personal stories further highlight the complexity of the issue. Daisy, a master’s student at GIMPA justifies her involvement, stating that she was desperate during her undergraduate years. Another student, Obiora, a Nigerian at the University of Ghana, shares that economic hardship led her into the world of sex work.
Risks and Challenges
While some view prostitution as a lucrative opportunity, it comes with inherent risks. Students face assault, contract sexually transmitted diseases, and, in some cases, are not compensated for their services. Personal narratives reveal close encounters with clients’ partners, adding an element of danger to this clandestine profession.
Recent statistics by the National STIs and HIV/AIDS Control Programme revealed a total of 23,495 people in Ghana tested positive for HIV in the first half of last year (January to June).
The figure is two per cent of the 948,094 people who undertook HIV testing from January to June 2022. The majority of the newly-infected people were youth.
Addressing the Issue
To curb the rising tide of internet prostitution, addressing the root causes is crucial. The prevalence of HIV among the youth underscores the urgency of intervention. Parents are urged to take a more active role in their children’s lives during their university years, offering support and guidance. Additionally, students are encouraged to seek legitimate alternatives, such as part-time jobs and skill training programs, to meet their financial needs.
The phenomenon of rising internet prostitution among Ghanaian youths poses a significant threat to the future of the country. While the issue cannot be fully eradicated, concerted efforts from parents, educational institutions, and the government can help mitigate its impact. Focusing on sustainable solutions, such as addressing unemployment and promoting skill development, is essential to safeguarding the well-being and future prospects of Ghanaian youths.