Exploitation, Taboos and The Ghanaian ‘Sex Industry’

by Nana Nyarko Boateng
12 May 2012 19:36 GMT

Reality of Exploitation

Reality of Exploitation

Modern West-African sex culture is in a ‘blockbuster series’; though roles within this series is not exact; women, men and children play a part in this production like it’s nobody’s business. And in the absence of a well meaning director, nobody says cut, no one calls the lights; all there is… is action.

Ghanaian culture is diverse but yet there still remains some common characteristics and fundamental concepts across the nation. There is a common consensus on how sex should be handled across much of Ghana and perhaps the wider West-Africa; to keep it in the throne room of taboos. Our sexual psychology and manners (the ‘let’s not talk about it’ politeness), protrudes on an expanded stage where audiences pretend not to see the human blood that drips from their complimentary tickets.

Let me ask – is it not odd to see older European men (or women) chaperoning younger Ghanaian boys and girls around like toys? Our beautiful beaches are famous spots for sex tourist activities – but who wants to be the one to raise this taboo topic? We tell ourselves that by ignoring this maniacal sex craving – the juvenile hands on an adult organ, playing tunes of enslaved innocence – then it won’t happen.

Each one of us must understand the unit and knotted cost of our overly simplistic or tendency toward denial when dealing with our sexual creations. We are all born with equal ‘shares’ in this sex ‘industry’ and like in any other product driven industry, there is the need for ethics and anti-oppressive practices. It is not enough to screen our sex management with incompetence in the name of taboos of yesteryears and cold individualism in our today. We need a sexually just culture that will make us feel liberated and entitled to happiness. We deserve a healthy continuity of our sexual evolution without damaging or limiting the natural consequences of a sexual encounter; pure unforced priceless ecstasy for consenting adults. But instead, we are questioning if that is acceptable in Ghanaian culture. Our fidelity to sanity, justice and protecting the vulnerable in our society is the only worthy question.

Our spinelessness to changing taboos and metaphors around sex and sexuality is damaging to our very existence. The power of the past hitches on connective application to the present when past beliefs, metaphors and symbols do not hold true anymore. For instance, amongst the Anlo of the Volta region in Ghana, it is/was taboo to have sex on bare earth. I wonder how many Anlos know this? Sexual prohibitions, symbols and metaphors for sex and our general sexual psychology have changed dramatically. And in keeping, communication around sex should also change. Regulating sexual behavior under the guise of taboos does not work in our today. People do not still believe that some supernatural being is going to penalize them for their sexual conduct… or do they?

Our sex shore is endowed with
dangerous matters that are of absolute detriment to our emotional, spiritual, physical, intellectual, cultural and financial wellbeing. Stakeholders of this sex ‘industry’ who are the adults of our reality, ought to be more prudent in managing their operations. Working structures that assure juveniles, the vulnerable and the deprived are excluded and safeguarded from this ‘industry’ must be erected in every corner of our sexual landscape. Artistic handling of some erotic representation is desired; yet there is an apparent limitedness in the courage to gather the facts surrounding our current sex/sexual reality. Our children are no more innocent because our adults are no more sensible. Focus must rest on that sexual conduct that undeniably trouble our human progress.

What constitutes healthy expressions of sexuality is extensively disregarded. Themes of male sexual dominance and female subjugation are however enhanced in our music, film, theater, literature, fine arts and every make of our creative grain. Women and children are the subjugated labourers of the ‘sex industry’. Women also are the grand products for market segments. Some women unfortunately fall into this alluded labourer/product role; thus their ambition is set to become the most notable loyal sex item on the market. They dress, talk and walk for the sex runway.

Our culture of silence on sex demeans our country and her people. Many Ghanaian writers and artists clearly avoid such topics such as incest, forced sex (rape, molestation, etc) and homosexuality in their artistic expressions. This, in my opinion, is hypocrisy and cowardice. If writers and artists remain selective of which part of our society their works reflect, our stifled realities will pick up on eating into the entire fabric of our Ghanian culture.

”Whereas it may be a difficult task to identify that which is artless and destructive in our sexual evolution, versus that which is artful and uplifting; we must be committed to working around these issues so that our revolutionary constructions of liberation are not compromised” —Kamaria Muntu.

Our partial comments or regrets on how things have turned out are not solutions. We have only become fluent cowards who stretch to blame the next person and the circumstances. Our thoughts must be asylums for all children, women and men who suffer sexual injustice and this must reflect in our dance, songs photography, fashion… talk. Our every sexual deeds must be pro-health, freedom and happiness and must be lethal to any form of injustice and abuse. Our hope must be incessant in the call for sexual freedom and justice; it is just insufficient to mind “your own business”.

The Asantes say, Eba a, eka oni*
*Trouble which affects one person
affects the whole family.

Nana Nyarko Boateng is a poet, writer and journalist. Her poetry can be found in “We Come from One Place” and represents “Writers Project of Ghana”.

(a draft of this previously published in “The Ghanaian Book Review”)

4 thoughts on “Exploitation, Taboos and The Ghanaian ‘Sex Industry’

  1. I had no idea of about this. I was stunned to read this. I admire and respect Ghanians so much as I think they have an extraordinary culture and people. This is something I sincerely want to know more about because I think Ms. Boateng makes an excellent point. I just hope other artist in this community start to respond as she has SOON.

  2. Wow. I am absolutely floored. I knew nothing and know nothing about this. I will have to do some research about this, what a disappointing development to hear of in a society which I hold in such high esteem (that doesn’t change). Still, I think Ms. Boateng is absolutely right. Why are people turning away from this as if it doesn’t exist. Children too?
    Thank-you for featuring this on your ‘more-than-a-blog.’ 🙂

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