Occupational health and safety among commercial sex workers in Ghana

Andrea Antwi, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The topic of occupational health and safety (OHS) has been investigated for many years and continues to be a concept often researched today. Generally speaking OHS research has been centered around food safety, construction safety, transportation safety, fire safety, drug and alcohol testing, health and medical management, and industrial hygiene to name a few. However, the concept of OHS concerning female commercial sex workers (FCSWs) has rarely been investigated, often neglected, seldom discussed and is lacking in sound research. Although regarded as the "oldest profession", commercial sex work (CSW) has consistently been ignored, disregarded and under-researched due to the illegality and stigmatization of prostitution. This paper reviews occupational safety and health issues faced by FCSWs in Tema and Accra, Ghana, through in-depth interviews, visits to women's homes, field work, informal conversations and participant observations with FCSWs over a period of two months. Facets of OHS that emerged among FCSWs included sexually transmissible infections, risks associated with harassment and violence from police and clients, alcohol and drug use, irregular hospital visits and/or lack of hospital visits, immigration issues, legal and policing risks. We argue that CSW be viewed as an occupation in great need of interventions to reduce workplace risks and improve the health and safety of FCSWs

Subject Area

Occupational health|Public health

Recommended Citation

Antwi, Andrea, "Occupational health and safety among commercial sex workers in Ghana" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1544290.