BY ISHOLA BALOGUN & EBUN SESSOU
An ecounter with a sex-worker:‘We’re supplying a much needed service’
Sex workers in our society have endured the ire of various communities where they operate. They carry out their business in the daylight without a dint of loss of face. And for as long as they offer service to some helpless individuals, they become increasingly noticed in and around our environment.
The worry many Nigerians have over the practice is mainly the openness with which the business is assuming. How can you explain a 70-year-old retired sex worker getting accolades from members who organised a bash for her?
Many landlords in Lagos would not waver to give out their apartment for rent even if they knew it would be used for the bed-for-money business. The sex-workers also, like most people would argue, have also lost sense of decency, making public what is no better than any other clandestine business. The formation of Association of Nigeria Prostitutes ANP, a few years ago by members of this trade, attests to their resolve not only to further decimate what remains from the moral psyche of the society but also move to press for law to support their illicit trade. Reacting to a clue that sex-workers from various parts of the state gathered recently to celebrate one of their senior members who turned 70, in Lagos, Saturday Vanguard went in search of the septuagenarian for an interview, she was said to be out of town. But sources in the area confirmed there was a birthday bash for one of the members of sex-for-money trade but debunked that the occasion was not a 70th birthday bash.
With several government initiatives to halt the practice, many believe that only social reforms and provision of jobs for all can help to reduce the practice especially those sexually vulnerable in the society. But with most probably a test case of the FCT on its N5billion rehabilitation initiative, it may give direction on how to deal with the menace. In an encounter with one of the sex-workers; Dorothy, in her late 20s, on duty in Ikorodu intimately shared some thoughts about the business with us.
Saturday Vanguard: Oh! you look nice.
Dorothy: Thanks. Are you for me? (gesticulating)
Saturday Vanguard: Yes! what is your bill?
Dorothy: Not expensive! How do you want it? Come, let’s go in. (Going inside)
Saturday Vanguard: But why don’t we agree first before….
Dorothy: Aren’t you a man? Or you just want to ask questions?
Saturday Vanguard: No, I really don’t like how some of you behave
Saturday Vanguard: Anyway, tell me about yourself first and I will…
Dorothy: Myself? Do you want to marry me or f….me?
Saturday Vanguard: The job is perceived as being quite dangerous. What measures do you take to keep safe?
Dorothy: That is why we advertise here that we play safe with condom. I personally find it very safe with it. Again, as long as you don’t take unnecessary risks or yield to some tricks by your clients, you will be fine. Didn’t you see the inscription there?
Saturday Vanguard: Do you get some bookings from your clients?
Dorothy: I don’t take bookings from anyone, and I don’t get a positive feeling either, this is business.
Saturday Vanguard: Do you have association?
Dorothy: Yes, we have. Are you a journalist? You ask to many questions.
Saturday Vanguard: No! just want to know.
Dorothy: What for?
Saturday Vanguard: I am personally worried that this business is becoming accepted.
Dorothy: (laughs) I know now that you are pretending.
Saturday Vanguard: No. You see, I learnt that one retired old member of yours, a 70-year-old former sex worker had a birthday recently; and members went there and even presented him a gift. Did you attend the party?
Dorothy: No! I don’t know her, I heard about it and what is bad about that?
Saturday Vanguard: How many years have you been in this?
Dorothy: About eight years now.
Saturday Vanguard: You speak very well, are you a graduate?
Dorothy: No, I forfeited my own education for my siblings after my ND.
Saturday Vanguard: training them with what you earn?
Dorothy: I don’t want to talk about that or are you are up to something?
Saturday Vanguard: (laughs) No! No, it is just that possibly, somebody might be of assistance and take you out of this. Are you aware that government is setting aside some billions of naira to rehabilitate sex-workers in the FCT?
Dorothy: Which government or they are looking for another way to steal money? Have they helped the beggars on the streets? The other time, they talked about law to legalise same sex marriage, is prostitution not better to be legalised than gay?
Saturday Vanguard: No! But our culture do not encourage it.
Dorothy: Well, whatever people like they should say, there are kidnappers, assassins and those who do heinous things for a living, why should important service to relieve bad feelings and emotions become the topic in the society. I beg, let everybody face his own business.
Saturday Vanguard: Is this your own view or that of your entire member?
Dorothy: I am not speaking for any body, but as much as I know, no one wishes to be a professional ashewo. I feel that what I do is a legitimate service towards people who pay for their personal needs. I am not vindictive or evil like most politicians. Some of us are educated and offer a service to men who have certain needs. Why do you think we boldly put the inscription outside that ‘We play safe with condom outside’. I don’t feel there is anything wrong with it at all.
Saturday Vanguard: Which means you are not in a hurry to quit the business?
Dorothy: Yes! Maybe after a few more years when my siblings will finish their education, I will try other business. The only drawback in this business is dealing with the stigma. There is nothing inherently bad or wrong about consensual sex whether for money, there is nothing inherently bad or wrong about money, so it’s hard to understand why there is such a stigma attached to receiving money in return for sex which satisfy a need.
Saturday Vanguard: So, you think there is nothing wrong with selling your body?
Dorothy: I’m not selling my body any more than a politician or a leader selling his soul, killing people for money and stealing the common wealth or the judge seeling his conscience. We’re supplying a much needed service to some people in need of it. We are very informed here. Please go out if you are not ready. (angry)