Treatment services for women are nowhere to be found – Gifty’s story

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Gifty is my name, aged 26, a native of Akwapim in the Eastern Region of Ghana. I was raised in a Christian home. Both my parents are members of the Presbyterian Church, therefore a very disciplined home. After leaving the junior high school, I attended a mixed boarding school in Accra. I had a masculine structure, so I took delight in playing with my male partners. I also loved sports, especially football. I was introduced to marijuana by some of my male friends, who told me that it could enhance my performance. I was later introduced to the use of whitish [heroin], which we usually mix with weed to make us feel high; gradually, I got dependent on the substance and haven’t been able to stop to date. 

My parents did not pay particular attention because they were not suspecting me as I was very obedient and law-abiding, and respectful to everyone around me. 

Later in life, I left school all by myself in my second year after I started performing poorly academically and became depressed. I started chasing the drugs, and it became part of my life. I could not manage my life and had to leave the school, and sold my belongings to pay for my drug use habit, as I used crack.

I befriended a seller. Because of my eloquence in English and my structure, I was loved. My guy was not educated, could not read or write; he saw me as a ‘queen’. I lived with him and started selling for him. Finally, both of us were arrested by the law enforcement agency. 

We thought we could pay our way out, as it happens most of the time.  The police officers will usually take money from us and set us free, but luck was not on our side this time around. 

This time, the Narcotics Control Board team was involved, so we could not escape. We were processed and put before the magistrate court for persecution. This time, there was a piece of evidence as I was arrested with the drugs concealed in my bra.

My guy was later sentenced to five years’ imprisonment after claiming ownership of the substance. I was freed after my parent’s intervention.

I have tried several rehabilitation houses, but it has not worked for me; they are not female-friendly; moreover, they are too expensive. In my view, we need rehabilitation centres in this country instead of sending people like us to prison.

Rehabilitation centres should be set up specifically for women; currently, there is no female rehab available. I wish I could access help, but there is none; the few available are too expensive for us to bear, so we live our lives in the streets until service comes from a good government that thinks about us as Ghanaians who need help and support.

My last plea to you is to let the country know about our plights: we do not enjoy this kind of life, need support, and have been injured several times [showing me a big scar on her knee] through police raids in the ghettos. We suffer daily under the police; we are always their targets. 


Photo: Alex Green – Pexels

Gifty’s story was compiled by Maria Goretti-Ane (IDPC / WADPN). This story has been edited for clarity.