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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid