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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

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