A NEW phenomenon in relationships ,known as May –Dec ember ,that has the potential of destroying family relations and weakening, social structures is developing in Sekondi-Takoradi.
The relationship is called May December because of the time period that the male expatriate workers come into the township to work on the oil rigs
They only come for some extended periods of time to work on the rigs and leave.
But while here they engage in relationships with young Ghanaian women.
Because of the immediate financial gains to be made from such, relationships, these young women do not endeavour to secure themselves legally in the union, with some bearing children only to be left destitute with their children when the expatriates leave.
These and other interesting issues were what Dr Akosua Darkwa of the Department of Sociology of the University of Ghana, Legon, shared with participants at the 63rd New Year School and Conference currently ongoing in Accra.
Although prostitution was frowned upon, such relationships, which Dr Darkwa termed as transformational sexual relations, were hardly condemned by families and associations of the young women because of the financial gains that could be made.
She recounted one such case in which a Ghanaian woman in one such relationship gave birth to four and was subsequently widowed.
Thinking she could benefit from the estate of her husband to cater for their children, she had the rude shock when the man’s wife arrived in the country to lay claim of the to the estate in Ghana.
Dr Darkwa in her lecture on ’’The oil industry and gender,’’ showed the vulnerability of the Western Region, which is the bread basket of the country ,with the most mineral deposits in the West Ahanta and Nzema areas, and also the region with the highest risk of malaria and tuberculosis.
She said the advent of oil brought high expectations from politicians and even the people Western Region,47.8 percent of whom in a survey expected the activities in oil production to boost their sales, with 33 per cent expecting job opportunities.
In a review of a years production and its effects in the region, Dr Darkwa mentioned transformational sexual relationships and the ‘’degendering of work.
She explained this to mean the phenomenon where women were still losing out on jobs that could pay them well, such as catering and house keeping because these were socially thought to be inherently the work for women and for which no further training was needed.
Males were therefore , taking up training in these areas, getting the certificates and beating the women to the jobs.
She advised Ghanaians to encourage their female children and wards to get requisite training in whatever endeavour they were engaged in for the right certification to stand a chance of being picked on the job market.
In relation to trade and the creation of jobs that the people of the Western Region were hopeful about ,Dr Darkwa said the dynamics of oil prospecting and production in the area did not give indications that these would be boosted.
This was because most indigenous folks engaged in petty trading and hawking, while workers transitted from the oil rigs to the city for brief periods to their homes or back onto the rigs.
She also spoke about the impact of the oil on livelihoods such as fishing, an issue she believed policy makers were conceptualising narrowly with one flippantly saying that land could be found for fishermen to farm.
She said that was not right as fishing was a generational trade, being passed on from generation to the next.
Dr Darkwa said in other oil producing areas, studies had confirmed a relationship between oil production and congenital problems as well as other blood related issues.
The Chairperson for the function, Prof John Gyapong, who is the Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, called for a health impact assessment to be carried out in the environs of the operational area of the oil rig as a matter of urgency.
He said that would help to deal with the question and the perception about the impact of the oil production and the health of the people before it became a huge challenge for the country.