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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Teenagers as sex hawkers

By Afolabi Aribigbola

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O ne common sight along major streets in Nigeria is the assemblage of girls seeking for men to take them home and get paid for their services. This is the new trend of prostitution in the country. Prostitution has been described as one of the oldest professions in the world, used to be the exclusive preserve of mature women in the past in the country.

Then, those involved will hire a room and hang special cotton for identification by prospective customers in obscure locations. Later, they graduated to congregate in and around hotels exposing their bodies to attract customers. Of course, the issue of women offering themselves to men for monetary rewards or price is a global phenomenon. The difference is the dimension and ability of each society to monitor, control or impose ban in very religious environments.

In some parts of the more prosperous climes, the commercial sex workers are fully controlled and regulated. The pattern of the trade is fast changing with the influx of teenagers and young adults that were not allowed to get involved in sexual or matrimonial issues in the olden days in the traditional set up in this part of the country. In recent times, young girls of school age appear in apparels that expose the vital and sensitive parts of their bodies to attract the opposite sex to patronize them.

What is more repugnant is that very young girls that should ordinarily be under the full control of their parents are found among these girls. What makes the matter worse is that they conduct themselves with impunity because nobody to control or caution them.  Therefore, they are exposing themselves and others to sexually transmitted diseases that are now prevalent all over the world.

Unfortunately, these are going on without any form of control despite its debilitating consequences. In any case, those who should control and put a stop to it are the major patrons and therefore find it extremely difficult to deal with the ignominy. One would wonder what could motivate young girls especially the secondary school students to get into this kind of risky business. Risky because many of them have been kidnapped in the process while several others have been killed for ritual purposes. The issue of concern revolves around why are our teenagers found along the streets, driven into the business of sex for money? Poverty or peer influence or motivation to belong and become rich quickly? Is it the failure of parents and the society to provide for these girls that pushed them into the dangerous trade? These and many other germane questions are issues that should bother discerning minds and patriotic Nigerians.

Indeed, many of the teenagers are forced into the trade because of prevailing and escalating poverty in the country. Many parents can no longer provide basic things of life for their children. Many have pushed out their children to fend for themselves in whatever way they can survive including sleeping with elderly people. One will realize that the country has been regarded as the World Poverty Capital because of the growing number of poor people that cannot access the basic things in life. This will definitely contribute to why girls go into prostitution. Lack of parental care and supervision could be other factors that influenced many teenage girls to become sex workers, peer influence is another. This is common in schools where well brought up girls are influenced and introduced to prostitution. Of course, it should be pointed out that some of the teenage girls along the streets waiting for men are not the result of poverty but innate ambition to live big and have the good things of life and the examples they have seen in some ladies ahead of them. The submission would however reinforce by the simple fact that prostitution are found in the parts of the word and the tendency for some individual to indulge in the act has always been there.

The consequences of the widespread provocative display of near nudity on the streets in Nigerian cities by teenage girls is wide and variegated. It has the potency to continue to encourage and influence more girls especially those from good background to seek to join the trade as they will regard it as acceptable way of life in modern times. Also, the high number of out of school children will escalate since more and more girls can easily become ‘better off’ through prostitution. The more dangerous consequence of the whole affair is infection and proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and particularly the HIV/AIDS.

On what to do to stem or stop the repugnant menace, there has been suggestion for its outright ban by the government. Prostitution as we are aware have existed over the ages and will be extremely difficult if not impossible to outlaw. The practice in some western countries where it has become a veritable source of income through tourism is to legalise the trade. In such societies, sex workers are registered, monitored as they carry out their trade.

They are trained on how to conduct their business and are made to regularly undergo medical examination to determine their health status. Since this kind of services and facilities are not available in Nigeria, and moreso that majority of Nigerians subscribe to the two popular religions of Christianity and Islam that abhor sexual immorality, this cannot be recommended for the country. Therefore, in the case of Nigeria, outright ban and enforcement will suffice and should be embraced to stem the dangerous trend of young girls queuing along the streets soliciting for male customers.

To control and put an end to sex hawking by teenagers along the streets in Nigeria is the responsibilities of the governments, parents, schools, religious organisations and the entire members of the Nigerian society. The government has a hug responsibility in this direction by improving the socio-economic condition of the people. They should enact legislations and empower security agents to arrest the dangerous act. Parents should be more responsible in providing for their children so that they will not become wayward and indulge in immoral activities. They must  monitoring their children to always imbibe good conducts.

This is because many of the girls got involved in this denigrating act not because of lack but because of peer influence and the need to join the big league. Schools and religious organizations need to get involved in sanitizing the already polluted Nigerian society where the youth are neck-deep in vices. The schools should be concerned in remodeling their students and inculcate in them good virtues and conduct that are always specified in their certificates. The religious organizations should focus on ensuring that members of the society conduct them in good and acceptable ways that can bring sanity into the society. In addition, members of the society especially those patronizing sex hawkers should desist because of the dangers associated with such ventures.

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