“Africa is a marvelous continent. Girls are beautiful and very sexy. All they want is a man who has money, and the worst is when he is white. In all, I slept with more than 1,400 girls in six different countries. I have all their pictures in my album”—Jean Michel, French sex tourist.
Like lawyer Maurice Ampaw, I choose to look at sex and morality through the prism of critical reality. I hesitate to play the Tartuffe when the hypocrisy of national morality stares at me. If sex is a natural urge, I feel it too wherever I go, just like the tourists who visit our country. When they are lucky to successfully negotiate for sex with our women, just like we all do, we should not be quick to wear our apostolic caps to demonise it as sex tourism. Some of our women have found true love and marriages in these circumstances.
GHC2.00 for sex
Last week, the celebrity lawyer called for the legalisation of sex tourism in Ghana to boost our GDP and deliver better rewards to vulnerable ladies. He revealed that in Cape Coast, local girls are paid as low as GHC2.00 for sex while many pastors are taking advantage of young girls because of poverty. At GHC2.00 per a few bouts of sex, we may be losing millions in sex tourism dollars because we have failed to regulate a sub-culture that is our own creation.
By the way, what is sex tourism? Last year, I read the sordid tale of Jean Michel, the French man who challenged himself to enjoy as much sex as imaginable by travelling to Africa. He boasted that he had sex with 1,400 girls and impregnated 600 over a two-year period in six African countries, including Ghana. The rest are Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Togo and Guinea. In Nigeria alone, he slept with 230 girls. In Togo, he bedded 100, pounding 80 more in Ivory Coast. Sometimes, he slept with three girls at the same time. He didn’t disclose how many he got in Ghana, but the pattern is clear.
Jean’s was an atrocious sex adventure, not your typical sex tourism. The white men we see on our beaches manage with only a few greedy women and fly back home quietly. They don’t come with the same ‘carpe diem in droves’ mentality as Jean. Some even travel with their wives. For this group, sex with a local girl is only a tourism benefit, not sex tourism. Similarly, European and North American women fly down to African beaches for sex. They are usually sex-consumed cougars who prey on ‘beach boys,’ exploiting their poverty to satisfy their depraved sexual fantasies. The MailOnline observes that these women either travel alone or in groups of friends, are often divorced or have experienced heartbreaks in their marriages.
Dr Busia on prostitution
Journalist, Marissa Crous, of News24 notes: “Not included in the scope of prostitution, sexual tourism is seen as social exchange, rather than an explicit sex-for-money trade. It’s frowned upon by local communities and authorities, but it’s not technically illegal. Simply because it’s nearly impossible to police.” Crous observes a worrying pattern where locals engage with foreigners to give what they have for what they want. If sex with a white stranger could fetch a poor girl $100, why settle for GH10 with a local fisherman who takes it on credit? She asks: “In the end you’re left wondering who is exploiting who.”
If sex tourism is a barter trade, the locals are exploited a million times by the visitors. Sex tourism is going to a foreign country with the purpose of taking advantage of the lack of restrictions imposed on sexual activity and prostitution. Former Prime Minister, Dr Abrefa Busia, wrote his Oxford sociology thesis on prostitution in Secondi-Takoradi in the 1950s. Strictly, what happens in Ghana may not be sex tourism. By popular rankings, Kenya is the only African country among top 10 sex tourism destinations in the world, with Germany, Thailand, Indonesia, and Spain featuring prominently.
Prostitution is illegal in Ghana but we have not placed strict restrictions on sex tourism, especially when sex, is transacted between two consenting adults? There are occasional swoops on popular prostitution joints in major cities but the law doesn’t mind the flourishing escort industry that is bringing the flesh trade to our doorsteps. In Accra, there are bunga-bunga parties where corporate executives converge to celebrate collective sin, debauchery and group sex. They are only a Whatsapp away and you may find them in church.
Ghana’s 15-year plan
How much money do we hope to make from sex tourism? Lawyer Ampaw explains that “sex tourism does not necessarily mean when the tourists come here they should have sex with our young ladies. They can come here and look at their beauty and enjoy themselves.” Like the Tourism Minister of Uganda whose ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ initiative received widespread condemnation last week, most of us think of women’s bodies in economic units when building arguments for tourism promotion. It is insulting.
The Minister, Godfrey Kiwanda, had hoped the beauty contest will attract visitors by showcasing Uganda’s “naturally endowed curvy women.” Ghana recently unveiled a 15-year-long tourism plan which will see the number of tourists to the country increase from one million to eight million a year by 2027. The travel industry is expected to raise $8.3billion per year by 2027.
We have curvy women here, too. True, sex tourism pays, but how do we attract their tourism millions without being too sexy about it? Maybe we can sell them womenzgold, instead of sex. Jean Michel was a poor factory worker until he won €550,000 at the lottery. He spent €200,000 on his African sexcapades. How can our tourism attract people who have money to spend without baiting them to unsettle our social façade and exploit our greed?
Soon, we may need to shift attention from foreign tourists to middle-class Ghanaians who are contributing to the growth of our local tourism. They wear their libidos on their foreheads, paying local girls the price of free honey for their honeypot. Ghanaians who live abroad are worse than Jean when they visit home. We even hear men of God are given sexy packages when they travel out. Perhaps, we are all sex tourists. Walt Kelly, famous American cartoonist, reveals our true nature: “We have found the enemy, and he is us.”