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General News of Monday, 10 February 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

‘Most second-hand underwear end up in boutiques’ – Traders confirm


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Many Ghanaians have developed a taste for foreign goods including second-hand underwear which are easily smuggled into the country despite the ban on its importation.

In Ghana, second-hand clothing locally called "obroni wewu", is relatively cheaper and readily available for sale on the streets and in the markets. Panties, boxers, braziers, swimsuit, and corsets are among the list of undergarments that people purchase for their personal use.

There is a high demand for used underwear which comes in grades. According to some dealers, not all second-hand underwear are in bad condition, some are “store reject” items which come with tags on them.

Madam Mercy, a trader at the Kantamanto market in Accra Central, who has been involved in the business for 6 years boldly defended its sale.

“We have a range of second-hand underwear, some are from London, China, Canada. Each one comes with a different price, there are grades to it too. Those who purchase the last grade thoroughly wash them before selling,” she told GhanaWeb.

One may wonder what informs people’s decision to patronized already worn undergarments. According to buyers and traders at the Katamanto market, these products are of high quality and have the tendency to last for years.

When the team visited the Kantamanto market, we found a number of women going through a heap of second-hand underwear to select the ones which best fit their body.

A young lady in her early 20’s gave her for reason patronizing second-hand underwear,

“It’s of high quality, I prefer second-hand underwear. It lasts longer and doesn’t get worn- out after washing it. Second-hand bra can last for so many years, unlike the new ones we purchase from the stores,” said one of the shoppers.

The Kantamanto market is the hub of second-hand goods. Traders who are engaged in second-hand business confirmed that so many people continue to buy from them despite the “health complications” that comes with wearing used underwear.

Health experts believe that wearing someone's underwear can cause infections. A Gynaecologist, Felistus Shambare, says women who wear used underwear expose themselves to all types of diseases, including STIs.

“Some bacteria are very resistant and can survive the conditions, long enough to infect someone. Pubic lice have been known to survive the harshest conditions, and are not easily killed. These little parasites can cling tightly to a certain spot and even a general wash might miss them,” Doctor Shambare confirms.

Those involved in the trade, however, disagree with the fact that people who use second-hand underwear may be exposed to some infections.

“I have been to Togo to purchase the so-called brand-new quality underwear. My customers brought several complaints that it didn’t last long. Surprisingly, nobody has brought negative feedback on second-hand underwear purchased from me,” a trader at Kantamanto defended.

"Some men purchase second-hand underwear for their wives. All you need to do is just wash it thoroughly with washing powder," says another trader.

According to traders, some boutique owners usually come to purchase the highest grade of second-hand underwear only to resell it to their customers as brand new products. It is hard to differentiate between the two as some used underwear are good as new.

“Don’t be deceived, the ones you buy from the boutiques are all second-hand underwear,” another trader intimated.

“I sold out all my underwear this morning, they shouldn’t ban its importation because it’s good. I don’t want to brag, there are some key persons in the society who purchase second-hand underwear,” an experienced second-hand trader, Mama Akos averred.



Ghana Standards Board in 2011 reactivated the ban on the importation of second-hand materials including undergarments, mattresses, and handkerchiefs.

Despite the word on the street regarding health hazards that come with wearing used underwear, some Ghanaians continue to purchase them. There is, therefore, a need to sensitize the public on the dangers involved in buying these items.

The traders, however, claim that all stained and outworn underwear are not included in the final items that are being sold to the public. According to them, they are carefully selected and washed before being brought to the market.

"The ban on the importation of second-hand undergarments should not be scrubbed. I will advise exporters to include the ones which are in good condition, they should desist from sending outworn underwear. We do our best to depose old and stained underwears, we don’t sell those ones,” a trader advised exporters.

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