News / Africa

Nigerian Sex Workers Call for Help

Heather Murdock
In recent years, commercial sex workers in several countries, like South Korea, Kenya and France have held public protests against strict anti-prostitution laws. In Nigeria’s conservative north, sex workers are not marching on the streets or calling for more rights. They are calling on the government to help them get out of the business.
 
In this complex in Kaduna, a city in northern Nigeria best known for sectarian violence and ever-deepening poverty, about 30 women pay a little over $8 a day for a spot in a corner of a room.  After they pay their rent, the most money they can make in a day as prostitutes is $10.  Some days they make nothing.
 
One woman, who didn't want to give her name, says the worst part is that besides being desperately poor, they are shunned by their communities.
 
“The majority don’t have respect for us because they think we are not among the living in the society.  They feel we are not supposed to be among them because we are here.  They discriminate us.  While some still take us to be human, the majority don’t really respect and regard us as human," she said. 
 
She said she wants out of the business and that the government and aid agencies should help.  Other women in the complex agree, saying as little as $180 would be enough to get them out.
 
“Of course this is no life.  This is no life.  As I’m talking to you I’m cold. I feel like crying.  No life," said a second woman. 
 
Poverty alleviation in Nigeria, which is rare, usually takes the form of micro-loans or training that helps people start small businesses.  Idris Mussa is a member of the Kaduna State HIV/AIDS department.  He says the department is planning to expand its services to include former prostitutes.
 
“Once they have the basic training  you will be able to give them the small-scale micro-finance.  Something that they can be able do, some income generation,  thereby they can be self reliant on their own," he said. 
 
Other officials say prostitutes who want to quit should have priority in accessing these kinds of services because their work contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
 
Yusuf Arrigasiyyu is the executive director of Muslim League of Accountability in Nigeria, an organization that is calling for government and international assistance in setting up programs to help women who want to leave prostitution.  He says, ultimately, these programs could help save the country money.
 
“If they don’t leave prostitution, government spends more.  Through them you can have HIV, you can have sexually transmitted disease and other diseases that are related to prostitution.  Now government spends more in providing health care for people that are contracting that disease," he said. 
 
Prostitutes say the idea of calling for assistance is relatively new to them and to date they have been entirely neglected by aid organizations and the government.  
 
But Kaduna State Commissioner of Information Alhaji Saidu Adamu says this is not true.  He says the local government would support women who want to leave prostitution, but it’s their job to seek help.
 
“They have to make the initiative.  If they initiate leaving that profession we are ever ready and willing and we will be happy knowing fully that our people now will be more functional, they will be more healthy.  We are also going to reduce the spread of AIDS in our society," he said. 
 
Adamu says prostitutes usually don’t seek government help because they fear they will be arrested.  He promises women will not be incarcerated or harmed if they come forward now.
 
At the complex, the women say they are arrested and harassed constantly.  They say they find the state government's promise hard to believe. 
 
Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report form Kaduna.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Henry unigwe from: Bayelsa state
June 13, 2013 6:21 PM
Some of these girls are not into prostitution because they are poor, some of them just like doing it because they have no free hands in there homes,sometimes they don't even use there hard earn money resonably.instead hey use it for expensive shoes and cloths etc.

by: clifford from: italy
June 09, 2013 7:01 AM
the sex workers should help them self , before anybody will come for there help, buy things from the villager and sell in the town, the money may be small but, you have your respect, and stop feeding your parent that refuse to provide for you instead out of pity you are taking care of your junior, and them, that is another type of slavery

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More