Poverty is the primary cause of child prostitution – Otiko Djaba

Otiko Afisah Djaba, Executive Director of the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, has identified poverty as the main factor driving child prostitution in certain regions of Ghana.

She shared that during her tenure as Gender Minister, traditional leaders informed her that extreme poverty was forcing under-aged girls into prostitution in their communities.

Speaking on JoyNews’ AM show, Ms. Djaba explained that these children are resorting to selling themselves to support their families due to the harsh economic conditions.

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“No child should be a parent. Why should a ten-year-old be a breadwinner? The girls are becoming very rude because they were now looking after the parents. They go out and comes home very late, and the parent is not able to admonish the child because the child is now paying the rent and the electricity bill. It happens in the Central region because that is where there is a lot of poverty.

“If you look at Ghana, it is the upper east, upper west, northern region, and central region that are most deprived and we have the highest data of poverty in those areas. So, poverty plays a key role in prostitution” she stated.

Ms. Djaba, former Minister of Gender and Social Protection, highlighted the profound impact of poverty on women and girls in Ghana, noting that prostitution often becomes a “first resort” for those struggling to survive.

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She emphasized that poverty drives both adults and children into prostitution, leading to serious consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and violence.

“Because of the ills that come with them, you might get sexually transmitted diseases, or you might get an unwanted pregnancy. You might get raped. The violence that comes from prostitution is totally unacceptable, and we are all aware of all these things that happen, but an older person is more aware than a child who feels that she has no choice.

“Some parents even push the children into prostitution because they feel that is the only way to make ends meet, like pushing your child to go and sell doughnuts and dog chains, and what have you?” Ms. Djaba quizzed.

She stressed the importance of personal responsibility and hard work in combating poverty and firmly rejected prostitution as an acceptable response. Despite the difficulties faced by women and girls in Ghana, Ms. Djaba urged them to make productive choices and maintain their dignity rather than succumbing to the temptation of quick financial gain.

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