So apparently, CNN decided to switch up its look online. It has a more streamlined look with more social media features and what-not. Social Media is taking over! Anyways, I like the new look, although it’ll take me a while to get used to the glaring red header.
The key video on the Africa page today is on prostitution in Kenya, and specifically, teenage prostitutes. Two of the girls spoken to first participated in the sex trade at 10 and 11 years respectively. During World AIDS Day in 2003 (Dec 1st.) myself and my fellow peer counselors at Wesley Girls High School went on an education and outreach trip to basic schools in neighboring villages in Cape Coast. At one of the schools, we got to talk to some of the children, who were in primary school, and who were generally below 12 years old, and one of the girls told us her story.
She was from a very poor background and her parent could barely afford to feed her much more pay her fees. She would go about three days without a real meal, and after that, she would go to the local taxi and bus center and offer herself to any of the drivers there who was willing to pay to have sex with her. Take note, these drivers ply the Accra-Cape Coast road regularly, so you can imagine how high the risk of HIV transmission is. I remember being greatly affected by the girl’s story. Despite the fact that she’d experienced such trauma, she was still an innocent child.
At Mount Holyoke I took a French class called “Love for Sale”, which looked at prostitution in France. The French are definitely more liberal when it comes to sexuality, but even then, the societal perceptions on prostitutes are alarmingly one-sided. People assume that prostitutes are inherently ‘promiscuous’ or ‘bad people’ – whatever that means. In Ghana and other African countries, its ten times worse.
Personally, I try not to judge without at least hearing people out . Instead of looking at prostitution as a moral issue, I think it should be looked at as an economic issue. What are the main factors that propel people to engage in prostitution? From the accounts I read during my French class, and from other resources, most women become prostitutes due to economic pressures. A very limited number actually become prostitutes because they want a more liberal sexual experience. And in that case, it’s still not an issue of morals or religion, it’s an issue of sexuality.
The link between prostitution and poverty is one that is very obvious, but which is also very ignored. People would rather sweep it under the rug than deal with the realities. Well guess what? The more you sweep dust under a rug, the more that dust will pile up into a nice mound, and one day, it will trip you up. There needs to be a change in how the issue of prostitution is regarded. It’s labeled as being ‘the oldest profession’ in human history, yet we still don’t really understand the dynamics of the situation. As opposed to labeling and beating down these women, our societies and governments should think of offering them other options. If those options are not available in the meantime, we should provide them with the tools to ensure their safety – health and security-wise (especially when it comes to child prostitutes).
These are just my thoughts on the issue. Here’s the CNN video . I would also suggest reading Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes, which looks at the issue of prostitution. As always, feel free to share your thoughts. Peace!
BTW: It was hard for me to find a photo that isn’t too risque or stereotypical, so decided to go abstract.
Photo Source: http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/image-library/port/376/s/stock-lipstick-mark.jpg
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.