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General News of Monday, 21 January 2008

Source: DAILY GUIDE

Brothel Raided: Naked Girls Flee

Over 160 young women, some in their teens and others early twenties, who live on sex trade have been rendered jobless and perhaps homeless as their operational base was last Saturday raided by a team of armed policemen.The sex workers, some as young as 13, were doing brisk business when their ‘sex palace’ was stormed at around 11:00pm Saturday night. Some of them were actively in the act, with men in deep penetration, while others were outside smoking, drinking and waiting for customers when the midnight raid started.

Some of the patrons were boys who looked more like primary school kids, raising questions about how they were able to raise money to patronise the sex joint.Even though some took to their heels upon seeing the police squad, about 160 women were not lucky as they were grabbed for engaging in illicit trade. In all 50 girls who confessed to being between the ages of 13 and 17, and 101 others who claimed to be above 18 years were arrested and sent to the CID Headquarters in Accra. Some of the girls were carrying babies, and others said they were a few weeks pregnant. 78 men, some of whom were in action with the prostitutes, were also arrested.

The police in recent times have been picking up prostitutes in the run-up to the Ghana 2008 tournament. Last Friday, some of the prostitutes were arrested in Ashaiman and subsequently detained for possible prosecution. The sex workers operate from a base popularly called ‘Soldier Bar’ at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra. The place is a cluster of wooden structures with about 20 rooms, and the sex workers charge a minimum of GH¢3 for one round of ‘short-time’. DAILY GUIDE was at the scene when the raid started. About 150 to 200 young women, who were hitherto partying outside, upon seeing the police presence, started to flee in all directions. The uniformed men managed to chase and catch a few of them, before surrounding the actual rooms the prostitutes were operating in.

A young boy, believed to be about 14 years old, who was caught on top of a sex worker, refused to get down after being given the order by the policemen. Unaware that he was addressing police officers, he said he had paid GH¢3 and must therefore be allowed to finish his task. “Masa ma tua, gyae me”, to wit “Master I have paid, please leave me alone”. The police had to pull him half naked from the woman and whisk him away. Other men who were also in the act were seen dragging their trousers up in their bid to run away. Some of them actually mustered courage and attacked the policemen but the armed cops had the upper hand. Some of the arrested men openly insulted and challenged the police on what right they had to prevent them from enjoying the services of the women. Several arrested sex workers also complained bitterly that if they wanted to sell their bodies, no one had the right to complain.

Some of the actions were caught on camera. Anas Aremeyaw Anas of the Crusading Guide told Daily Guide that he had been working under cover at the ‘Soldier Bar’ for some time now and had actually taken a live video of some of the teen girls engaged in prostitution. “My job description was to sweep the rooms, dress the bed and clear the used condoms. I was also to make sure that anybody that came there paid because there are some men who would only want to sleep with the girls for free. So I planted this secret camera in one of the rooms and actually filmed some of them having sex. “For some time now, I have been following this child prostitution story but there had never been enough evidence to put someone before court, and I do not want to investigate an illegality for the story to only end up in the press while the perpetuators of that illegal act walk about freely,” Anas, who is currently Journalist of the Year, said.

Asked how much he was paid for his services, Anas said he was not paid per say, but given some tips, depending on how many people came for their services. “At times, they give me 50Gp and at times I get GH¢1,” he said.During the raid, both Anas and this reporter had the beating of their lives from some of the policemen who were unhappy that the journalists were taking pictures. Anas sustained a swollen face and the DAILY GUIDE reporter had a bloody nose with his brand new Sony digital camera damaged and seized. The two were tied to each other and bused along with the sex workers to the CID headquarters. Around ‘Odo Rice’ at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, some of the arrested people in the bus started to jump off the moving vehicle. It took the intervention of top CID bosses to release the two journalists at around 1:30am Sunday morning and return the damaged camera.

Inspector B. Darkwah, Public Relations Officer at the CID headquarters told DAILY GUIDE the Police would be working in collaboration with the Social Welfare Department and the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs to find shelter for the teenage sex workers and take them through rehabilitation. He said the focus of the police was to get the teenage girls to appreciate the dangers of the illicit trade they were involved in.

Inspector Darkwah said information available was that the ‘Soldier Bar’ was operated by about four women who were yet to be arrested.

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