The present harsh economy has taken its toll on almost all business interests in the country, be it legitimate or illegitimate. And commercial sex trade appears worse hit as most of the practitioners now lament poor patronage occasioned by harsh times which every average Nigerian is going through at the moment.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s checks at some hangouts and fun spots in parts of Lagos State revealed that very few men now patronize prostitutes to satisfy their ever rising libido. And that has inevitably slowed down the business coupled with the influx of new entrants, especially married women.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with some of these prostitutes, also known as runs girls, on how they cope with the harsh economy. They all poured out their mind, blaming their present financial mess on poor economic situation of the country. However, some of them pledged to quit the illicit trade if the country’s situation doesn’t improve before the end of the year.
One of the commercial sex workers, Olaseni, a native of Oyo State said, “I am 27. I was once married but the marriage couldn’t work. So, I had to quit. I am now a single mother with two kids. No one will see me and say I have two kids because of my stature and the way I always dress.”
Asked on why she quit the marriage and eventually ended as a prostitute, she explained, “That’s a long story my brother. It’s nothing I can finish discussing. But I thank God I am still alive. My estranged husband married another wife after our second child and abandoned me and my little kids for the new wife. But shortly after, things became very difficult for him.
“He could hardly feed himself let alone taking care of his family. Even I started going out when I was still with him, but it’s a secret affair. Now, I am into open prostitution. There is nothing to hide again.
“If I may tell you, I was a very quiet person before veering into this kind of business. I even own a shop in Ikotun but things were not going on well, that’s why I decided to also continue all these runs. But the truth is that I can’t remarry.
“Let me also tell you, many married women are coming into the business daily. Even most of them claim their husbands are aware. You too can see how many of us here now. But some of us may be here till around 11.30pm without being pocked by any man. And those that patronize us only collect our contact and leave when they hear of our price. They will promise to come back but you will never see them.”
On what could have caused the low patronage, she explained, “The country is hard now unlike when I started about three years ago. Everybody is complaining of skyrocketing exchange rate. Things are extremely hard now. Most of us have reduced our charges, yet men find it difficult to pay you N5,000 till the break of the day unlike before when the least I usually collected was not less than N10,000. So, the poor economic situation in the country has affected all businesses, including ours. We pray the government finds a lasting solution to the problem so that we will not die of hunger here.”
Another prostitution from a popular hangout in Abule Egba area of Lagos who gave us her name as Rita from Anambra also groaned as she said her income per month has drastically reduced due to poor economy.
“It has not been easy surviving with this job again. Even during the last yuletide, we all hoped things would be better, no changes at all. And that’s why I couldn’t travel home. Even at that, I couldn’t make enough money unlike before when you will see men pouring in from everywhere. Now, things are even worse. I have a 9-year-old boy, but he’s with my mother in the village because I don’t want him to know the type of work I am doing to take care of him and my mother. I don’t really have to remain in this kind of job for long. I may even quit this year if the situation of the country is better.”
On whether married women are among her colleagues, she also confirmed, “Yes, they’re even marry now. Even their husbands are aware of it. It’s because of the harsh times that most men don’t query their wives again after knowing that they’re into prostitution. Most of them have four or five children and their husbands have lost their jobs. Anyhow the money comes their husbands don’t bother so far they’re not armed robbers. They must use what they have to get what they want so that they can take care of their children.”
Joy from Benue also gave an account of her experience during this harsh economy, blaming it all on the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
“Things have never been this hard since I joined prostitution. Men don’t see us anymore. Some of them just drive pass as if we’re not existing here again. I am even fed up of the job. If things remain like this before the last quarter of this year, I will stop this job. I can’t be coming all the way from Ajegunle, Ogun State and be going home empty handed every night. Men complain a lot this time around. At times they will even price down to as low as N2,000 which is very ridiculous. Before, I was making about N30,000 per week but now, I hardly get N20,000 per week, and even with hard labour.”
Another sex hawker, who simply identify herself as Blessing from Edo State, “Yes, being a prostitute is not a crime or disease. I learnt a vocation but I don’t have money to establish it. And I must take care of myself and look good. I don’t know of any other means of livelihood than this. But I am getting tired of it because of the poor patronage. I come here from Ikorodu thrice in a week but most times I go back home empty handed in the morning. Things are hard at the moment. The economy is bad.
“I intend getting married next year, meaning that I will quit prostitution latest this year. I am 28, still single and not searching. I just want to see if the situation will improve. If not, I may not even continue till the end of this year.”