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Sex workers declare lifetime wishes!

By James Harry Obeng

 

IN an attempt to earn decent lives, and forgo the stigma that characterizes their current means of earning a living, group of female sex workers at Agbogloshie and Madina in Accra, have now declared their resolve to quit prostitution for good.

 

But this, according to them, will only come to pass with the materialization of their long-held aspirations; first, to settle down with men of their dreams and secondly, to land honorable vocations to cater for themselves.

 

As a first step to achieving their aspirations, the sex workers aged between 12 and 26 said they were in serious search for husbands who are caring and considerate to marry for the rest of their lives, as they have also make passionate appeal to donor organizations and philanthropist to respond to their call for befitting vocations.

 

These were made known to The Spectator during separate interviews with the sex workers at Madina and Agbogloshie in Accra.

 

The sex workers forms part of over 420 commercial sex workers who are currently receiving medical and counseling at the Drop-In Centre facility by the Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS).

 

The facility attends to the category of sex workers called ‘roamers’ or those who move from place to place in the city.

 

A characteristic with these girls who refer to themselves as “sisters” is that they keep and render sexual services free of charge to some men for protection called “non-paying partners,”

 

These are the regular partners (or better still boyfriends) of them who also double as pimps. The sex workers cohabit with them as known of couples as the latter tend to offer the former with necessary supports; security-wise and sexual gratification.

 

Surprisingly these girls do not intend to marry them since they consider them as violent men whose future cannot be guaranteed. The girls claim they could attend to at least ten men daily with most of their clients being well-known personalities in society.

 

They confessed that some of their colleagues worked as ‘kayaye’ (female porters) during the day and attend to men at night. They said aside the scores of young men that come their way, most married men also called on them and were prepared to pay handsomely.

 

They named some of their regular sites as Soldier Bar and Railway line at Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Agbogloshie, Madina, Lapaz and other places, indicating further that they charged clients rates ranging between GH¢3 and GH¢10 for sexual services.

 

“But at times the socio-economic status of clients which we often read from the way they dress and approach us determine the price,” they stated, adding that “a full night service could cost a person ¢50 and upwards”.

 

They intimated that in the apparent attempt to avoid the attention of on-lookers and passer-bys, “some men readily accept whatever price you charge for a service, and these are the clients who often appear honourable, gentle and loaded with money”.

 

The sex workers told The Spectator that some of their clients include security men and at times local preachers who come to distribute scripture materials but end and sampling the ‘short services’ at the end of it all.

 

“At times, they come to preach to us only to wrap-up their sermon with some of us in bed, but they also pay good money,” they said.

 

Responding to a query about whether they would readily inform their husbands about their sordid past in prostitution, one of them who gave her name as Abena indicated in the affirmative, saying that is the only way to safeguard the marriage since gossip abound plenty in Ghana.

 

“Informing your husband about the fact that you were once a prostitute will save you the embarrassment that often comes to you when people you used to be in prostitution with get to see you luckily in the company of someone you call your husband after all these years in this business”.

 

She went further “and even trying to hide such a thing may only go to spell the doom of your marriage because your husband will eventually get to know about it, at least if not from anywhere, the elasticity of your genitalia could expose you to your husband,” she said, adding there is no shame in admitting your past as some husbands who get to know, tend to be sympathetic and also protective of your from prying eyes.

 

 

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September 19, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

AU must act on Zimbabwe!

DEAR Sir,

 

It was very timely that you devoted the editorial column of your two weeks ago issue of the Spectator to raising concerns about the disputed Zimbabwean presidential election. In fact there are no two ways about your standpoint that “Zimbabwe’s electoral process is palpably flawed in the sense that election results that should be announced to set minds at rest have taken too long for comfort”

 

Permit me a space, however, to add my voice to the editorial by saying that change, for now, remains the sole panacea to redeem the restive country from her current woes and restore her to normalcy. There are very pressing issues, predominantly emanating from the country’s political leadership, which are directly responsible for the calamitous situation faced by Zimbabwe. In truth the primary cause is found in the government’s gross disrespect for democracy.

 

The reality of life in the country today is that of gloom and despair. The truth is that democratic transition via a free and fair universal suffrage is increasingly becoming a distant reality, according to recent media reports about President Mugabe’s call for a second round of voting.

 

But just as Martin Luther king jnr said that “we will have to repent in this generation not merely because for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people”, the international community, especially the African Union, should stage a swift intervention to ensure a timely declaration of the election results to set minds at ease. Let us not put on our usual ‘I don’t care’ spectacles until the country plunges into the unexpected scenario characteristic of most disputed elections on the continent.

 

 According to William James, “the art of being wise is knowing what to overlook” and this is not an issue to overlook. African leaders should rise up to forestall yet another ‘war’ after the Kibaki-Odinga issue because when two elephants fight….

 

jmsobeng@yahoo.com

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Features, Opinions | Leave a comment

GT staff demonstrate

By James Harry Obeng & Grace N. A. Solomon

 

DECLARING that “we know it better than any other person,” workers of Ghana Telecom- both juniors and seniors – have embarked on a series of actions to ensure that the government goes ahead with the sale of its 70% shares to Vodafone.

 

“We have studied the full benefits of the Vodafone bid and we are optimistic that the future of GT, lies in the ratification of the agreement by the honourable Members of Parliament and we wish to call on them to go ahead with the process,” the workers, styling themselves as the Concerned Workers of the Ghana Telecommunications Company (GT), declared on Tuesday.

 

As a first step, the workers have served the Speaker of Parliament and all the other 230 Members of Parliament (MPs) with petitions about their stand on the issue and hoped that they (MP’s) seal the privatization process.

 

The latest action of the workers, following earlier ones concurrently staged in Kumasi, Takoradi, Sunyani and Wa on Monday, was a massive demonstration at the GT headquarters premise in Accra, on Tuesday.

 

Clad in blue T-shirts of the company, with some wearing read head-bands,  the staff held placards, some of which read “Save GT Now for posterity”, “If the sales is not allowed to materialize, competition will kill GT” and “We want Vodafone”, all in support of the 70-30 Vodafone deal.

 

And this was also not without public participation as a cross-section of the public flocked into the premises of the company to lend their support, and most glaringly dance to the tunes offered by a brass band, bringing traffic in front of the headquarters premises to a momentary standstill.

 

But the euphoria was nearly truncated when, in the heat of the demonstration and dancing, a member of the public stepped in to protest against the sale.  It therefore took the assistance of some top-notch executives of the company who staged a swift intervention to save the man from the wrath of the jubilating demonstrators.

 

In an interview with ‘The Spectator’ about the reasons underlying the protest, the Chief Manager of OneTouch, Mr. William Agyei, said the demonstration was to show solidarity and support towards the privatisation of the company, saying “this is to ensure the survival and resuscitation of the GT for generations unborn since the company is now worth nothing.”

 

He underscored that there have been continued misrepresentations and misconceptions about the sale by certain elements of the public “who know next to nothing on the issues, but are arguing to their own advantage and are seeking their own parochial interest.”

 

For his part, the Marketing Research Manager of GT, Mr Paul Manu, indicated that as a result of the company’s status quo, it was losing revenue from international calls (IDD).  This, he explained, was as a consequence of GT not belonging to any international grouping “to steer international traffic towards its network.”

 

He indicated that the workers were in support of the Vodafone deal because “Vodafone already has that international clout to turn the fortunes of GT around for the better, making it the only brand that is listed by Interplants (an international company that values international companies) in its first 50 companies in the world,” he noted.

 

Mr. Manu added that the inability of GT to steer international traffic towards it network was negatively impacting on its performance, especially in terms of competition.

 

“Even bank’s like Ecobank and companies like Nestle have threatened to quit transacting business with us if we don’t get on board IDD calls,” he explained.

 

 

September 19, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

HIV/AIDS resurrects African showmaster

Review by: James Harry Obeng

 

GHANA’s success in chalking headway in her drive to slash the scary statistics and thus minimize the spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS has become a predictable cliché. The eccentric statistics that put about 300,000 compatriots as living with the HIV epidemic coupled with the national prevalence of 1.9 per cent drum home the exigency for an effective all-embracing national sensitization tool to curb the epidemic since there is currently no scientifically tested cure except for the use of anti-retrovirals which, aside its cost, guarantees no other assurance than ameliorating the epidemic; not curing it.

 

The anti-HIV/AIDS drive that recognizes the epidemic as a socio-economic developmental challenge has awakened the creativity and ingenuity of sociologists, dramatists, writers and musicians. The challenge is so serious that the once-upon-a-time Showmaster of Africa, Bob Pinodo has had to come out of retirement.

 

The multiple award-winning Showmaster who has not seen active gigs since the late 1980s, after rocking Ghana with his Sonobete dance and music creations, decided from his Winneba base in the Central Region that the world hasn’t heard the last on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

 

His latest work, released on both cassette tape and CD, is titled “Get involved HIV/AIDS Campaign” and is sponsored by the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC). The album combines the dual elements of education and entertainment in raising awareness about the epidemic; that is edutainment.

The four-track album encompasses such tracks as “Enka ekyir se yebeben Yehowa”, “HIV/AIDS is real” and “Joe Boy” in addition to the lead track, “Get involved, HIV/AIDS campaign”.

 

In a blunt but  humane approach, Pinodo in track two (HIV/AIDS Is Real) takes a swipe at attempts from certain quarters, especially a cross-section of the youths, to adamantly mythodologize the menacing disease, elucidating his standpoint with the argument that present-day scientific authentications sourced via doctors and scientists were ample evidences to break the myth surrounding the menace.

 

Additionally, couched in a corrupt typical Nigeria – like Pidgin English, Track Three tells the story of an incorrigible young man named Joe Boy whose numerous extra-marital sexual engagements put his innocent wife at the risk of the infection. The development subsequently provokes Pinodo, brother to Joe Boy’s wife, to become very vocal in the marital affairs of the couple as a way of restoring to normalcy the frequent beatings visited upon the wife whenever the voices concern over the husband’s amorous flirtations with other women.

 

As he puts it “you dey beat am, you dey cheat am oo! AIDS  dey oo! It dey kill people,” Pinodo offers an exegesis on the causes of the epidemic, dissecting into factors like blood transfusion, needle and blade cuts, etc, but with emphasis on sexual intercourse, especially unprotected extra-marital sexual escapades, which is a common characteristic of Joe Boy.

 

But in track four which he sang in Fante, Pinodo turns attention to the gospel as a way of reaching people with his message against HIV/AIDS. He contends that the advent of HIV/AIDS was partly a result of the sheer disregard for the word of God by humanity, giving the assurance that it was never late to draw closer to God, to wit, “Enka ekyir se yebeben Yehowa.”

 

Meanwhile, the title track of the album, “Get involved HIV/AIDS Campaign” comes with no less a description than a power-packed exhortation that commensurate its name. In a jazz-like instrumentation, Bob Pinodo re-emphasises the fact that AIDS was claiming million lives globally and prevails an all Ghanaians to stage the bold and decisive step aboard the campaign to halt the spread of the disease in the country.

 

Without a shred of doubt, the album should find itself into every home in the country to aid in materializing the worthwhile campaign of curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ghana.

 

    

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Features, Reviews | Leave a comment

Madam Fati’s story!

By James Harry Obeng

 

THE Chief’s palace – a symbol of refuge and solace – was at the centre stage of sanctioning the human rights infraction as she suffered the unfathomable nightmare in her entire life.

 

At the palace, she was chained, beaten and forced to confess to practicing witchcraft in undoing his stepson, but which she claimed innocence of.   Her action was only to infuriate her accusers and “punishers” the more.

 

Today, she is traumatized she cannot continue to live at her land of birth, albeit appropriate rituals have confirmed her innocence.

 

This is the story of 50-year old Madam Fati Adam, from the Gburinani community in the Tolon Kumbungu district of the Northern region, who was accused of bewitching her stepson, and eventually causing his death.

 

As per the details narrated to ‘The spectator’ by the Co-ordinator of FIDA- Ghana Tamale office, Ms Saratu Mahama, the victim was summoned to the chief’s palace by one Alidu, a brother of the regent of Gburinani, to respond to allegations of witchcraft leveled  against her by some members in the community.

 

Ms. Saratu said upon her arrival at the palace and in the absence of the regent, the victim was chained at the orders of Alidu.

 

The victim was then subjected to severe beating by hirelings of  Alidu that nearly left her unconscious, all in an attempt to force her admit to the allegations that she was the witch behind the death of her stepson who had two wives and children.

 

After her persistent refusal to cajole to the actions of Alidu, the victim was then taking to a soothsayer who, after several sessions of rituals, exonerated the victim of all the witchcraft “charges”.

 

This prompted the children of the victim who reported the ordeal to the Tamale office of FIDA, on January 29, this years subsequent legal advice.

 

“Because of its criminal nature, we also referred it to the Tamale Regional Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service”, Ms. Saratu quipped, adding that the FIDA office in Accra has also petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in connection with the case.  

 

As a result of the ordeal, especially the damages done to her image, the victim could no longer reside at Gburinani but has rather relocated to live with her brothers at Kpalgun.

 

Alidu, who is now on the police wanted list, has also escaped first arrest in the hands of the Tamale Police.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment