Sex Ghetto Raided
12-14 Year-Old Girls Rescued
In the afternoon, they are seen innocently playing with toys and enjoying candies but under the cover of the dark, little girls aged between 12 years and 16 years of age are subjected to several bouts of sex for GH 3 ($3 equivalent) by adults as old as 55 and 60 at Soldier Bar at Circle, a suburb of Accra .
The young girls say they offer their bodies for sale to adults because they cannot get their daily bread.
The Ghana police, in an attempt to end the sexual exploitation of these young girls, last weekend conducted a successful raid together with The Crusading Guide, where over 160 girls were rescued from their sex base.
In all, 239 sex workers and their clients were arrested, out of whom 60 were minors, according to Ghana police reports. Policemen drawn from the Panthers Unit, The criminal investigations department (CID) and the rapid response unit (RRU) conducted the operation.
Most girls were arrested naked while servicing their clients, and many others stood waiting for their next clients. The police got evidence of used condoms, toilet rolls and cigarette sticks. Strong locally brewed liquor (Akpeteshi) and other types of hard liquor were also found in the raided bar.
Guys arrested were seen busily trying to put on their pants and shirts. One girl, Esi, 13, (name withheld) ignored the police presence insisting that Kingsley Abrokwa should pay her GH3 for previous bouts he (Kingsley) had undertaken.
One of the clients took to his heels naked, leaving his trousers and shirt, while the police chased him with his properties dangling before him.
The operation got underway as a result of an undercover video obtained by The Crusading Guide reporter and submitted to the Ghana police. The paper obtained hard core evidence on a video compact disk, where little girls were sexually exploited in turns by adults who had paid for their services. This reporter picked up a job at the brothel as a cleaner responsible for sweeping used condoms and cleaning the rooms. The Crusading GUIDE is yet to publish details of what is captured on the video CD, where children are seen being sexually exploited.
Jonathan Adams of The Ghanaian Observer, Citi FM’s Patrick Ayimu, Radio Gold’s Obuobia Darko Opoku and the Public Agenda had earlier on done some work on this. The Crusading Guide reporter spoke to these reporters, especially Adams, before developing its investigative strategy for the Soldier Bar area operation. Mrs Tatiana Kotlyarenko, of the Enslavement Prevention Alliance (EPA), and Nanaoye Lithur were also of great help in this investigation.
When the police descended on the prostitutes, they ended up beating clients who resisted arrest. One man, after taking two slaps, started wailing, and protested the action of the police. A policeman issued several liberal slaps to this reporter and ordered him to sit on the floor. When the reporter introduced himself, he said, "You lie you are not Anas, you came here to fuck." He added one more slap to the already-dazed Crusading Guide reporter. A reporter of The Daily Guide, Halifax Ansah-Addo, had taken his fair share of the slaps. A Joy FM reporter, Alex Kwabena Mensah, was already relaxing on the floor with his hands on his head after taking his share of the slaps.
Halifax suffered a broken nose while this reporter had a swollen chin as a result of the beatings. The police later explained that they could not recognise this reporter in time, adding that that was the hazards of the profession. They later released all the journalist after locking them up with the over 200 sex clients in cells.
Meanwhile, the girls at press time had been sent to social welfare in Madina for safe keeping by the ministry of women and children's affairs (MOWAC).
The Crusading Guide is yet to check with UNICEF and the International Organisation on Migration (IOM) on what they are doing about helping the poor kids out with their problems.
A few of the children who spoke to this paper said they were prepared to stop allowing themselves to be exploited if they could be equipped with skills or taken to school.
“I do not like to sell my body. If I can get a helper, I would go back to school and learn, but I had no choice that is why I come here every night. I presently have an STD but I do not know what type it is exactly because I have not been to hospital, because I cannot afford it,” said Mother (not her real name) a 17-year-old girl who was also arrested.
Please stay tuned for hot details.
Sex Ghetto for Demolition
"Take Us to School", Child Prostitutes Cry Out
The Crusading Guide can confirm that plans are far advanced to have Soldier Bar, a notorious child sex base at Circle, Accra, demolished because of the exploitation of children being perpertated there.
Top government officials at a meeting held last night decided to urge the ministry of women and children’s affairs to ensure that the base was destroyed. Already, the bar has been closed down because of a recent police raid, during which 334 girls were rescued.
The operation came as a result of hard-core evidence submitted to the Ghana police by the Crusading Guide concerning the activities being carried out in that area.
The Crusading Guide’s visit to the premises showed that it had been deserted. When this reporter visited the Madina base of the department of social welfare where the minors were being kept, there was evidence that the teenagers - between 12 and 16 - were running away from their Madina camp, while officials of the department and the ministry of women and children’s affairs (MOWAC) looked on helplessly. Before the raid, both institutions had assured the Ghana police that if the girls were rescued, shelter and other logistics would be provided for them. This, coupled with the video tape obtained undercover by this Crusading Guide reporter, served as the basis for the police to strike at Soldier Bar. However, it has now become clear that both social welfare and MOWAC could not keep hold of the girls, leading to over 100 escaping. Checks indicated that only 15 of them remained.
The deputy minister of MOWAC blamed the department of social welfare for the children’s escape, but some officials of the department also pointed an accusing finger at MOWAC, explaining that the ministry, which had oversight responsibility over the whole operation, did not coordinate well.
Joseph Benefo Darkwa, the spokesperson of the police criminal investigations department (CID), confirmed that the police, after arresting the 334 girls, released 161 to MOWAC and social welfare. “So you see, we the Ghana police did our part so nobody should try to say we did not do our work well,” said the CID spokesperson.
There were interesting developments at the Madina shelter where the girls were kept. People who had gone there as relatives to visit the girls ended up "smuggling" them away. By the close of day yesterday, the supposed relatives had taken most of the girls away. When The Crusading Guide visited the deserted Soldier Bar yesterday, some of the girls who had assembled around the area told this reporter that they wanted government to take them to school so that they could stop offering their bodies for money.
“You think we don’t also want to work in the bank and wear suits? We want to also go to school, so tell government that if it wants us to stop this trade, it should take us to school and not allow police people to come and arrest us and take us away. Now what do you want us to eat?” said Dzifa (real name withheld). Dzifa said that some of her friends were still with the social welfare authorities. According to her, if she discovered that her colleagues were being educated or given any employable skill, she would go and join them to acquire knowledge and skills.
“I really don’t like this job, but I have no choice; somebody should pray for me,” Dzifa concluded.
Please read Friday’s edition for interesting details.
Mpiani Calls for Investigation
The Escape of Child Prostitutes
The chief of staff at the office of the president, Mr Kojo Mpaini, has called for an investigation into the disappearance of over 145 prostitutes, including minors, who were handed over to the ministry of women and children’s affairs (MOWAC) and the department of social welfare after a successful police swoop at their hideout in Accra.
Speaking on a London-based private radio station, Hot FM, the chief of staff submitted that the incident had just come to his notice.
He reiterated that there was the need to punish whoever was responsible for the release of the girls.
It will be recalled that the police last week organised a successful raid, based on film evidence submitted to them after the Crusading Guide's investigations into illicit sex activities at Soldier Bar, near Kwame Nkrumah Circle, in Accra.
When the girls were rounded up, over 140 of them disappeared, leaving only 15 minors. While the police are claiming that they had nothing to do with the disappearance, MOWAC’s deputy minister, Mr Dugan, has been pointing accusing fingers at the department of social welfare and the police.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas - 2008 Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism Winner, Local journalist category