Safety in Accra

A single female traveler (who lived in Osu for two months) writes:
I just wanted to let you know about two things I have experienced in Accra that are concerning.
Firstly, I was walking along a street in Osu with a friend at night and had someone try to snatch my bag. The men were riding on a motorbike and didn’t manage to get it the first time as I was holding it quite tightly. They circled back a few times and tried again. Luckily we were able to run into the driveway of a nearby house where some very kind locals helped us, so I didn’t lose my bag or get injured. I know you mentioned in your book that violent crime in Accra is quite rare. I’m not sure if I was just very unlucky or if the amount of crime against tourists is rising, but thought you might like to know.
I also wanted to write about my experience as a young white woman here. I have been staying in Osu, so my experiences do not necessarily apply elsewhere. On the streets in Osu I have been frequently harassed by local men. Almost every time I have walked down to the shops on Oxford Street I have had at least one man come up to me hassling me – even when I’ve been wearing a fake wedding ring. The experiences of the women who wrote in your book suggested the men they encountered were not particularly intimidating and left in good humour once the women made it clear they weren’t going to date them. I have found this is not the case. The men have followed me as I walked down the streets after telling them I wasn’t interested, yelling out after me and being extremely physically intimidating in some cases – one man even grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go until I literally had to yank it away from him… and this was when I was with friends! I have found the only way to get away from some of them is to go into a local shop and wait there until they give up and leave. I have found it is particularly bad at the end of Oxford Street that Koala Supermarket is on. My other female friends here have also said they don’t feel comfortable walking at that end of Oxford Street.
So, in summary, it might be worth mentioning – particularly to female travellers – to avoid that end of Oxford Street unless they are with friends, and to never walk in the back streets of Osu at night, even if they are with other people. To be completely honest, I would even go so far as to caution young female travellers who are here alone to reconsider whether they really need to travel to this part of Accra. In hindsight, I would not have stayed in Osu as a solo female traveller. Having said this, I have met some female travellers who are older who have not experienced the same harassment by men, so perhaps it only applies to young women.

2 thoughts on “Safety in Accra

  1. ladybirdathome says:

    I’m often is this part of Accra and never have had any problem. People inc. men will take and hang on to your hand, it’s perfectly normal here and not to be worried about. There’s no need to avoid this area or to be afraid.

    • solidarity, sista says:

      I share your experience to the entirety. I have been in Ghana (mostly in the greater Accra area) for over a month now and I have a few months more here. I have been yelled at, harassed, grabbed violently, and followed on many occasions.
      I find it is very difficult to remain calm at times when my autonomy and boundaries are being threatened. Some of the interactions I have experienced have led to marks on my arms from men grabbing me as I walk by. I have tried to calmly say “please do not touch me” which quickly leads to “you do not have the right to touch me.” But I guess the interesting component is that the men react with confusion…
      There are very strong gender roles that subordinate women in Ghana, and this allows for men to feel a superiority over women. The whole idea of “feel free” does not apply to other people’s freedoms… only to the person saying them… There is no concept of where one man’s freedom ends and another person’s begins. There is a high rate of domestic violence, rape, and violence against women. “Men” do not grasp any notion that they do not have the right to physically harass you…
      This is not to say that I also have not met some really amazing people here, however, sadly, more than a few times a day I am in threatening circumstances. . and I have found Osu to actually be a place where I feel more safe than most.
      This is not the fault of any person in particular. This is the result of a post-colonial country and a totally corrupt state. There is a lack of critical thinking here, because the way folks are raised is to not be critical, and thus it is a very very different culture than one that I have come from. I am learning more and more from the lovely and amazing folks in my little community and asking lots of questions about their own feelings of rights, safety, and freedom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s