She wanted to be a lawyer by profession, winning landmark court cases and registering her name as one of the most respected legal brains of her time.
But the circumstances of life never favored poor Joana who now finds herself as a “first class” prostitute in Accra.
My investigations with Joana started at the auditorium of one of Ghana’s most influential churches.
Just like any gentleman would do in meeting a decently dressed lady, I smiled gently at Joana who I believe has been stealing glances at me just as I was about taking my seat.
Strangely enough, she was so friendly and outgoing with me that I had wondered if indeed she might be a long time school mate I had forgotten.
Taken over by her friendly demeanor towards me, I decided to spend just 5 minutes of my after-church time to engage in a brief conversation with Joana who incidentally happened to be a first time member of my church.
We talked and exchanged numbers with the aim of getting to know her more and introduce her to the traditions and belief systems of being a modern day Christian.
Our discussions on phone were very cordial and friendly, until the waves turned one night when Joana inquired of me when we could go out for dinner “…and spend the night together at an affordable cost”.
Taken aback by her sudden change of tone which was typical of the role prostitutes played in movies, I wasn’t just flustered but moved to tease out an interaction with the church mate, Joana who indeed turns out to be call girl.
For the purposes of her privacy and also the integrity of my job as a YEN reporter, I decided to have a 30-minute interview with Joana who granted to speak to me under one condition – that our interaction does not in any way or form reveal her true identity but rather churn the narrative on the real reasons why most innocent ladies venture into the risky adventure of prostitution.
Here is my full interaction with her:
YEN Reporter: Thanks for this opportunity to meet up with you, Joana.
Joana: My pleasure!
YEN Reporter: For how many years have you been a prostitute?
Joana: You know, I hate to be called a prostitute . . . I think the term “escort” will do.
YEN Reporter: Why hate the term prostitute, after all being an escort bores down to the same thing, prostitution?
Joana: It’s a cheap term, I hate it. Besides you can’t compare me to the girls on the street. I am far more educated than them.
YEN Reporter: When you say you’re far more educated what exactly do you mean?
Joana: Apparently I had to drop out of school because my parents who live in the village had no money to pay for my fees. So, yea! I consider myself at least educated.
YEN Reporter: Why prostitution, Joana?
Joana: Hmm, I don’t even know where to start from. I wanted money to complete my diploma course in 2015. I couldn’t just sit back and watch my friends graduate without me and as I said, parents said they had no money.
YEN Reporter: Tell me more about your family?
Joana: I am the first born with two siblings; the boy is 17 and the girl just 9 years old. And even these two I have to take care of them.
YEN Reporter: So is that the main reason why you chose prostitution?
Joana: My brother, there are no jobs! If students with Degrees and Masters are sitting home unemployed, how much more a school drop-out who have a Diploma ?
Besides, you go ask a friend of help and all they want is to be intimate with you so why enter into this?
YEN Reporter: How then do you cope taking care of your siblings?
Joana: The small boy, my younger brother, was born with epilepsy. My mother has taken him to various hospitals for 17 years now. So now that they are all old, I as the elderly girl need to take care of them.
YEN Reporter: Are you making much money from this business?
Joana: (Laughs) Please don’t call this a business. I call it slavery!
YEN Reporter: Can I say it’s because of how you sometimes get treated by your clients?
Joana: Not really, it’s because I feel like I am paying the cost of being a loving sister. In the name of loving my family and not wanting to see them disgraced in life, I rather choose to sacrifice my life.
YEN Reporter: How much do you make, if I may ask?
Joana: I am a Christian and I think disclosing how much I make from this thing could lure other ladies to do what I am doing. It’s a risky adventure I am taking. I wouldn’t say I am making much money but it’s enough to feed the family and by medications for my brother.
YEN Reporter: What can make you quit prostitution?
Joana: That’s a difficult question. No one wants to be in a distasteful experience forever, not even a thief. I have regrets and so does the thief who steals.
YEN Reporter: Whenever you retire to bed, what prayer do you say to God before sleeping?
Joana: I always ask God; “why me?” YEN Reporter: “Why me?”
Joana: Yea! “Why me?” It’s like He’s left me here on Earth to suffer and carry the burden of others.
YEN Reporter: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Joana: I’m 28 years of age so I wish to see myself with a family and kids by that time.
YEN Reporter: Any word to government?
Joana: What can government do for me? I leave them to God! They also have their own troubles to face not mine.
YEN Reporter: Thanks Joana for this time with YEN?
Joana: Thanks also to YEN for hearing my side of the story, God bless you.
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