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Teenagers in brothels

Teenagers in brothels

By Maria Famakinwa
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Joke (other names withheld) a 19-year-old girl who was the first child in a family of five living in Akure lost her father, the bread winner of the family six years ago. According to her, the burden of caring for her and other four siblings was difficult for their mother to cope with, which led her to prostitution. She expresses desire to leave the trade but finding it difficult to cope with challenges of life.

Joke, is not the only teenager who offers her body for money making venture, findings by The Hope show that hundreds of young girls now  litter Nigerian capital cities and towns plying the age long trade. It has even degenerated to a situation where they have turned strippers, many of whom are undergraduates, in night clubs. Most times, they are connected through friends, neighbours and even relatives. This is exactly how a 20-year-old Oyinade, a  200 level student in one of the higher institutions in Ondo  State was lured by her friend Adun, into prostitution cum  strippers.

Oyinade who was shy while reluctantly speaking with this writer narrates how tough life was before she succumbed to Adun’s pressure towards ending her suffering. Her words: “I am from an average family of four whose parents can hardly provide the basic needs of life. We have a family member who supports  my family financially especially in the payment of our  tuition fees. Since I joined the trade, my parents  did not suspect that I do visit brothels”.

I am  almost a year in the business and it has never been suspected by my parents. “The way I  operate cannot make anyone suspect me. I live with my parents  and not in brothel, what I do is to give my mobile phone numbers to the managers in charge of some  hotels, who will call me when my services are needed and when I am through, I go back to my house.”

On why she allowed to be influenced into what she cannot tell her parents, she opined that, “the quest to end hardship in my family  led me into the business, simply put, I am not contented with the little my parents can offer. Even when I know that selling my body for money is shameful, I still cannot help it because the temptation of making easy money just by having sex with some men for a few minutes is usually very difficult for me  to resist. But, I can assure you that from now on, I will start working out ways to forget the dirty business because if I continue and my parents get to know, they can develop heart attack and I will not forgive myself if they die untimely.”

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Another teenager who identified herself simply as Bose said it was a tough decision for her when she decided to take to prostitution as a teenager to weather the storm of life, she  revealed that she was into Ushering at social functions since she could not continue her education after sitting for her West African Examination Council (WAEC) but came out with poor result. “My parents advised me to learn a trade and I chose fashion designing but along the line, a colleague introduced me to Ushering job at social functions where they paid me N5,000 per function but, it is not a daily job, atimes, you get it once in a month, it was at one of the ushering outings  that a man asked me if I could meet him at a particular hotel in Ijapo, I went and from there  I got to know at the hotel that young ladies who are into prostitution could be  connected to customers who need urgent sex by calling their phone numbers. That was how I started.”

On how much she is paid per a round of sex,  she said that it varies. “As little as N2,000  but we charge higher for longer session while a whole night can cost between N8,000 and N10,000 depending on a customer’s bargaining power.”

On if she is not aware of the health implications and the fact that prostitutes are prone to ritual killings, she became moody and dispirited. She dropped her head down. In a lowly voice, she said: “Not that I am happy involving myself in this, hardship brought me into commercial sex business. On how we protect our health, we do not allow sex without the man wearing condom, but if a man insists not to use condom, he must meet certain conditions and he will pay higher, but it is very rare, she narrated. Speaking also on how they protect themselves against ritualists, she added. “We are aware of the job hazards and we are not living anything to chances so as not to fall victims.”

On her future plan, she  said, “I want to settle down and get married if I can get a man who will take good care of me. Like I said earlier, I found myself in this situation by accident and I can leave anytime. Though, some of my friends who are mostly teenagers go to nude clubs as strippers in different parts of the state where they strip and dance to get customers but I have not joined them to do such. Most times, my mind condemns me yet, I need helpers to quit the job and settle down.”

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Asked if that is the only job she could do , she said, “that is the only job with a better offer for now. My basic needs are met through it, but I am ready to quit the job, pick up the pieces of my life and start afresh  if I can get another  better offer.”

The story of Imade, an 18-year-old girl who together with her friends always hang along Alagbaka axis at night, dressed in skimpy attires like bum shorts, spaghetti tops, short skirts or any outfit that would show off their bodies’ parts for potential customers is another pointer to parental irresponsibility and a failed society. Though, very reluctant to talk until when convinced that the story is meant to draw government attention to their plights, said, “I need to do something to keep body and soul together since my parents cannot take care of me  and there was nobody to help because family members also have their own challenges. I make beads for sales but the proceed was not enough for my care as beads are going out of fashion.

She confessed that before she took to prostitution, she had engaged in menial job as a site labourer where she was paid N1,500 per day “before I left the job as it threatened my health. I embrace this as an alternative since I make easy money from it.”

Reacting to if her parents were aware, “I guess my mother should be aware but she cannot ask me how and where I get money to take care of myself, after all, she cannot provide for me and my other siblings. She always complain that the money she made from her petty trade could not meet the needs of the family. My father on his part does not come home regularly because he joins friends for any available job.”

On how they get customers and how much they are paid she said,  “those who patronize us  know where we always hang around. Our market comes alive once it is dark and our customers understand our language. On her charges, she said it depends on the style,  minutes spent and bargaining power.”

She expressed readiness to quit the trade  and pursue her academic if anyone is ready to help her.  In an emotional tone, she said: “I am not living my  dream with this current lifestyle;  I want to go to the university and study nursing, get good job, marry and start having children. I am ready to quit the business as soon as things improve. I need to re-sit my WAEC to complete my results and very soon I will take a step towards getting that done. I am also appealing to the government and well- to-do individuals, to do the needful and make life better for the poor  who are in situations they could not help themselves. Most teenagers are in different brothels selling their bodies because of the economic situation in the country, not everyone can endure hardship.”

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A staff in one of the hotels in Akure offering such services who does not want his name in print  revealed that majority of girls who patronise them and other hotels  are minors who are not ready to start low. “They give their numbers to the hotel managers who will call them when their services are needed and will in turn give the manager a stipend to encourage him so that she would not lose the customers to other ladies who are already waiting to be called.

“The staff here mostimes are also not spared of harassment due to the nature of our job, God willing, I am starting a new job soon because I am not proud of working in this environment.”The hotel staff who blamed the trend on lack of contentment of the present generation added that most of the people who sleep with them are not doing it for sexual satisfaction only but also  for other diabolical motives which may later have negative effects on their future. She appealed to  parents to always spend quality time with their children and try to provide their basic needs.

A Counselor, Mrs Sharon Adeyeni blamed the society for most social vices being experienced in the country and called on government and parents to be alive to their responsibilities, so as, not to destroy the future hope. ” The trend of teenagers involving in social vices is sad, disturbing  and failure to address it urgently portend a bleak future for our tomorrow leaders. In all of these, poverty remains a crucial factor that is forcing minors into brothels.  Government should map out strategies that will discourage young girls from prostitution and parents should be their children’s best friends, find out the company they keep and where they get money from. Children on the other hand should be contended with what their parents can offer instead of struggling to be like some else which led most of them into brothels”, she counseled.

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