Ghana is a hotspot for child sex tourists, where paedophiles can go about their business with no conviction in sight, says a recently published article in OneWorld.
The online magazine's story hinges on research by Dutch journalist Sanne Terlingen investigating the case of someone referred to as 'Ruth'. The 17-year-old Ghanaian claims that she was raped in her native country by a wealthy, well-reputed Dutchman who travels there regularly.
"I was eight years of age when I was first raped. He pretended to take care of me and he paid my school fees," she is quoted as saying. Ruth sued her alleged assaulter two years ago, but the trial is lingering on with no end in sight, and the defendant remains a free man. Although a lawsuit against him is pending in capital city Accra, he hasn't spent a single night in jail, nor has he shown up in the courtroom. The man has been accused of raping at least one minor. In the Netherlands, he enjoys the reputation of a benefactor.
Not the only one
According to the OneWorld article, he is not the only Dutch national suspected of paedophilia in Ghana. Members of Ghana's Dutch expatriate community can readily identify a number of people they suspect to be paedophiles, citing them by nicknames, such as 'The Meat Merchant' and 'Tall Ad'.
The Ghanaian NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child reported in 2006 that "more and more Ghanaian children are being abused by citizens of Western countries", and that the country is "earning a reputation on paedophile websites as a safe destination for child sex".
This was also confirmed by Ghanaian lawyer Irene Aborchie-Nyahe, who told OneWorld that Ghana has become an ideal holiday destination for Western child sex tourists.
"The world has changed over the past years," says Aborchie-Nyahe. "At first only missionaries and philanthropists came to Africa. Today more people can afford to fly to Ghana, including those with bad intentions...but most Ghanaians are not aware of that. Our children believe that all white people are good."
The Dutch government has prioritized combating child sex tourism and holding its perpetrators accountable. In the past, Dutch nationals have been prosecuted and convicted in the Netherlands for acts of sexual abuse that occur towards minors in foreign countries. But because Ruth's case is already being tried in Ghana, her alleged abuser is not being prosecuted in his native country.