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Nigerian S*x Workers Demand Recognition

sexsssssAs the world marks the 14th International S*x Worker’s Rights Day  today, Nigerian s*x workers have joined their counterparts in some   countries to demand for legal recognition of their trade as a job.
Some of the prostitutes told reporter that the time had come for the   Nigerian government to grant them their due recognition and further   recognise that as human beings trying to keep body and soul going, the   ‘profession’ should be considered legitimate enough to put a stop to its discrimination and stigmatization.

Though many of them did not   realise that a day like this was set aside for them until they were   told, they also called on rights activists to assist them gain the   desired recognition. “See, many people, including you, do not see  us  as human beings. In your mind, we are a condemned set of Nigerians  who  sell their bodies so cheaply, but that thought is not right,” Jane, a  lady from eastern Nigeria who operates at a brothel close to the   railway line in Agege, told our correspondent. Her colleague, a  27-year old from southern Nigeria, said with their rights recognised,  they could pay tax to the government and to be seen as decent people in  the society.

“In some countries abroad, s*x workers pay taxes.  There is no  discrimination, they can sue and even have streets, mainly  in red light districts allocated to them to carry out their trades. “But here in  Nigeria, we are faced with rejection from the society, serious   harassment by the police, and victimisation by our customers.

“You  can imagine a customer who rushes into this place in a desperate bid to  ease himself, jumps at one of us after a bargain and rides like a horse  only to renege on the agreement on how much he should pay. If we have   our rights, we could call for his arrest without shame or molestation   from security agents and other Nigerians,”

she explained. In a   brothel just a few meters away, another s*x worker, Judith, told our   correspondent that many prostitutes have various reasons for taking up   the “business.” In her own case, she had travelled out of the   country primarily to “hustle in Spain. But I was deported even before   reaching the place. “It was a tough experience and I started   sleeping with men as we moved from one country to another just to get   money to survive. I stayed two months in Morocco gathering money, but   just days to my entering Spain, I was caught with other 80 women and men and sent back to Nigeria.

“I am from Agbor in Delta State and   couldn’t go back to my place because of the shame. So I took up   residency in this place servicing men daily and making money. I’m even   more comfortable here now and I make good money, about N12,000 every   week,” she said. In another brothel located behind the lock-up   shops in Iyana-Ipaja, Philo, a 30-year old, who said she never heard   that s*x workers had such a day in their honour, said it would be good   for government to give them legal backing.

“We can be seen as  social workers assisting men who can’t summon the courage to ‘toast’  women,  who are downtrodden and can’t maintain having a full-time  girlfriend or wife as well as those who love variety. “Ordinarily, without us,  there would be much depression among men in the country. If you see what we have to bear sometimes, dirty men, stinking mouths and a lot more.  How many women on the streets can accommodate that?” she  asked. Her colleague, who gave her name as Eki (meaning market in  Bini language), said granting recognition to prostitutes in Nigeria is  the best thing  government could do for them.

“In many parts of the world, women are not ashamed to say they are call girls because they are recognised by the society. “In the case of Nigeria, we just overlook the daily insults from both   children and adults as well as the usual harassment from the police just to keep hope alive. “Sincerely, we are not regarded as members of  the society, we don’t have the freedom to do what we like because of   the stigma. If the government cannot provide us jobs or put us on a   welfare scheme to prevent us from taking to this means of livelihood,   then it should recognise us as doing legitimate business,”

she said. She also called for support from non-government and rights  organisations,  saying they are in a better position to help in the  fight. The  International S*x Workers’ Rights Day is marked on 3  March every year to call the world’s attention to the plight of s*x  workers and demand for  their rights. With the red umbrella as its  symbol, the day came  into existence in 2001 with a protest of over  25,000 s*x workers  organised by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee  in India. In  South Africa, Sisonke, the only movement of s*x  workers in the country  is commemorating the day with a march across  streets to call for an end  to injustices against s*x workers and demand the recognition of  prostitution as a legitimate job.


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