SOME TEENAGE girls at Sege and its surrounding communities in the Ada West District of the Greater Accra Region, are reportedly trading sex for jobs at the Ada Songhor Salt Project site owing to hunger.
Some traditional rulers, politicians and individuals have infiltrated the Songhor Lagoon, built small dams (locally called atsiakpo) and are said to be milking the majority poor. This has allegedly created an avenue for some men to abuse the girls sexually before giving them jobs to do at the site.
The sexual abuse has led to more girls dropping out of school due to teenage pregnancy, leading to single parenting.
Some parents in the area are increasingly worried about the high rate of teenage pregnancy and single parenting and want an end to the Atsiakpo menace.
Investigation conducted by DAILY GUIDE revealed that some girls who are in junior high and senior high schools have been engaging in the practice to raise money to pay their school fees.
The women were paid GH¢1 after helping to mine an aluminum basin of salt at the lagoon a day. A woman who could help mine about 10 basins raises an amount of GH¢10 each day.
A mother of one who works at the salt lagoon told DAILY GUIDE that she gave in to the sexual advances of a dam owner who paid her after working at the dam.
“If you do not have a boyfriend or a friend who has a boyfriend who owns atsiakpo, then forget about getting work to do there. They will harass you sexually and make sexual advances towards you with a promise to employ you,” the woman asserted.
She said her parents stopped giving her upkeep money and the only way to cater for herself was to work and the Songhor Lagoon is the main occupation. She said she gave in to the demand for sex before getting a job and that led to her pregnancy and subsequently giving birth to her child but the man refused to take care of the child.
Mrs. Doris Mensah, a salt dealer at the Songhor site, told DAILY GUIDE, “I am happy you are here to investigate things at the Songhor Lagoon because things are going wayward here. As a result of Atsiakpo our daughters are being abused sexually by some men. The girls do not often graduate from school and get pregnant without knowing who is responsible for the pregnancy.”
According to her, unlike previously when anyone could visit the Songhor Lagoon and mine salt to sell, some individuals have monopolized the Lagoon making it difficult for the indigenes to mine the salt, thereby depriving them of their livelihood.
She appealed to the Ada Traditional Authority to put an end to the Atsiakpo so as to curb the high rate of sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy.
Rev. Sophia Kitcher, a Catechist at the Presbyterian Church of Ghana at Sege and leader of the Ada Songhor Salt Women’s Association (ASSWA) who confirmed the abuse of girls at the site, expressed worry about the trend and admonished the girls to resist the temptation and become responsible adults in the near future.