By CHARLES KUMOLU
From the ancient time to the present, prostitution has always been regarded as the oldest profession in the world. This belief also implies that prostitution is somehow a cultural practice that has been with mankind since the beginning of time.
Male and female sex workers can be found in every city and every country of the world. From the more popular prostitution on the street to the present high paid escorts, it can be said that the profession is getting more sophisticated.
But this act of trading sex for money is regarded as a social disorder in many countries across the world. This, however, does not undermine the fact that some Western countries have legalised it.
Nonetheless, the common assumption is that it is essentially driven by widespread poverty in many sub-Saharan African countries. Nigeria is one of those countries which regard prostitution as both a social and moral misconduct and frowns at those that practise it.
The conviction that sex trade is one of the drivers for the prevalence of AIDS accounts for its illegality in Africa’s most populous nation.
It is against this backdrop and other various damaging effects of prostitution that many stakeholders have continued to rise against the trade in Nigeria.
But for Sympathy Worldwide Foundation, SWF, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, the focus is how to rescue the practitioners(prostitutes) from this demeaning profession and give them a new, more befitting lease of life.
“SWF was founded to curb some anomalies in the society. These anomalies have to do with women hawking sex on the streets. For me, sex should not be hawked. It’s something one should do with someone who so much cherish you and whom you actually cherish too,”Eberechukwu Nwuzo said when Vanguard Metro, VM, encountered her recently.
The encounter with Nwuzo, who is the Chief Executive of SWF, presented the picture of a sad woman. She is unhappy not because she lacks the essentials of life, afterall from every indication she is a comfortable lady. Her source of worry is that prostitution has continued to diminish womanhood.
“Prostitution is a stain on womanhood; that is why my target is to be able to change one person because I can’t change the whole world and nobody can. But if I’m able to change one person and that person changes another in a positive way, the world will be a better place to live in,”she submitted.
Nwuzor further informed that SWF had rescued some sex hawkers from some brothels in Lagos. This has not been an easy task, especially as it has to go from one brothel to the other in order to accomplish this.
“Again, when you go to the brothels, it’s a 50-50 chance; anything can happen. They can attack you if they find out your motive. So apart from using wisdom to avoid being attacked, you should also have it at the back of your mind that you are visiting supposed friends. So if you go with that attitude, you will discover that one or two of them may open up to you. It’s part of the sacrifices. Some of the time, I put up an attitude that I’m also into this kind of deal in order to get what I want,” she stated.
Beyond this, the SWF boss informed that the NGO monitors rescued prostitutes, noting that they are usually provided with alternative sources of living.
“Yes, we monitor them so that they don’t run away,” Nwuzo said, adding that: “We do but you should know that life is like a plant. So, in some cases, you will do the planting and God will use another person to do the germinating and growing aspect. For us, we have planted in the hearts of many of these women and girls. Most of the time, we have seen them derailing or not doing what they have promised us. So often times, they end up spending the money we used to start business for them in the wrong way and come back asking for more”.
This quest against prostitution does come with challenges, Nwuzo told VM.
As far as she is concerned: “The challenges are too many but I have always said that every dream has its sacrifice. There must be sacrifices that you must be willing to make no matter how beautiful or challenging your dreams appear. So I have always known that this one is a tall order and all the way, I was willing to make the sacrifice. Part of the challenges is that at times, some of the people you have set out to help in some cases, don’t even realise that they need help.
“ Some will even tell you that it is ‘condition’ that brought them to their present situation; that one uncle brought them to assist them get a job or to train them in school only for the man to turn around to start sleeping with them every night. ‘So I decided that if I can sleep with a man freely every night that I can as well make money from it and this is what landed me into this business,’ one of them told me. And they will tell you that they don’t need help anymore. In this situation, you find it difficult to convince the person that your own offer of help is genuine”.
Nwuzo, however, added thus: “We are organising a conference; the conference is part of our efforts to restore the dignity of womanhood as well as to let the parents understand the developmental stages of their wards. It’s also part of our awareness campaign. So, the conference is tagged, ‘First Prostitution Et al Conference’ with the theme, ‘Woes of Prostitution’. It has other sub-themes such as ‘Children and Trafficking’, ‘Children and the Media’ and ‘Women and Prostitution'”.
The event holds tomorrow at Festac Town, Lagos.