Social inequality exacerbates sex transactions without a doubt
Social inequality exacerbates sex transactions without a doubt

Creating awareness . . .Clandestine sex transaction in informal communities

The conversation regarding sex transactions cannot be ignored in the realm of public policy at national, regional and global levels.


Sexually transmitted infections and illnesses associated with pandemics have made the practice of transactional sex a highly relevant topic in public discourse. 

Clandestine sex transactions can be defined as secret sexual relationships carried out for monetary gain, involving people of various ages ranging from teenagers to adults. Many government agencies and organisations, such as human rights groups, may not fully understand how these clandestine sex transactions occur within informal communities.

The prevalence of such transactions within these communities is alarming, as many individuals view them as a necessary means for survival. While there are inconclusive discussions about the causes of clandestine sex transactions, factors such as poverty, lack of education, limited access to resources, and lack of development, among others, cannot be discounted.

Quite often, perpetrators describe themselves as girlfriends, lovers, sugar babies, daddies, or mamas rather than prostitutes or clients. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the practice of transactional sex in Ghana is a necessary evil because perpetrators cannot survive without it.

Whatever twists and turns the conversation may take, the health implications on a larger scale remain a common denominator. Endangering the health of the parties involved is not the only worrying concern; the spillover effects on national and global levels cannot be ignored.

This viewpoint probes into the gritty reality of slum life, where the currency of relationships is traded in concealment, and the boundaries of morality blur in the pursuit of survival in Ghana, a developing country.


The nuances surrounding the push factors or the desire to engage in the sex business are contours that demand careful investigation. Even though Ghana has not experienced any political instability since the 4th Republic, refugee crises from the sub-region, characterised by forced displacement, disruption and uncertainty, have pushed many vulnerable people into Ghana who find slums as their safety net.

This tends to create informal communities as fertile ground for clandestine economies and exploitative practices. The 2020 report of the United States of America Department of State posits that military invasions and refugee crises tend to breed sex transactions.

Hence, the complex intersection of refugee crises and forced displacement contribute to the prevalence of clandestine sex transactions, which tend to have far-reaching implications for affected individuals, communities and the nation at large.

Poverty also often strips individuals of their livelihoods and economic stability, leaving them with few options for survival. Therefore, the absence of formal employment and economic opportunities leads many employable female youths in Ghana to turn to sex work as a means of generating income to support themselves and their families.

 Poverty thus creates a conducive environment for the growth of clandestine sex work as people face financial desperation due to limited access to viable alternatives.
 Additionally, social inequality exacerbates sex transactions without a doubt.

The incidence of social inequality, particularly within informal communities, is very pronounced. Wider gaps in social inequality in slums impoverish the inhabitants, making them more vulnerable and nurturing an environment conducive to the growth of clandestine sex work for survival.

The entrenched social disparities primarily affect women, who sometimes experience institutional discrimination in the workplace, limited access to health care and education, and restricted economic possibilities. This makes women more susceptible to covert sex work as a means of financial survival.

Suggested measures

First, the implementation of comprehensive strategies that tackle the root causes of clandestine sex work and create supportive environments is required. This can be achieved by creating environments where people have the agency and opportunity to pursue safe and fulfilling livelihoods, free from exploitation, investing in economic empowerment, education, and social support systems.

This will empower individuals, particularly women, to pursue alternative livelihoods with dignity and autonomy. Second, the writer recommends utilising local resources, networks and expertise, including local assemblies, to promote community ownership and involvement in the design and implementation of interventions aimed at addressing the underlying causes of sex exchanges.

By doing so, focused information campaigns about the dangers and repercussions of engaging in covert sex can be conducted in informal groups, offering alternative routes to social engagement and economic empowerment.

Individuals involved in or at risk of engaging in covert sex transactions can benefit from the training that peer educators and outreach workers from informal communities receive to help spread knowledge, offer assistance and make services more accessible.

Third, coordination between and among local government entities, relevant community stakeholders, including state and community security agencies, is recommended. The coordinated effort will provide first-hand information such as venues, nature and timing of such clandestine activities; the key actors involved, and their motivations.

Such an endeavour will ensure that appropriate support systems, programmes and relevant policy interventions are developed and implemented.

The writer is a Lecturer, UPSA, Accra.


Connect With Us : 0242202447 | 0551484843 | 0266361755 | 059 199 7513 |

Like what you see?

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...