The shame of campus prostitution
By Babatunde Olorunleke
Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world; from Delilah’s seductive ways with Samson in the Bible, to last night in a dark corner at a popular joint around First Bank in Akure.
Women, ‘selling’ their bodies for money; some pushed into this nefarious profession out of poverty, some out of sheer greed and some others, simply for the love of sex. In this piece, the hope explores the lifestyles of students in tertiary institutions who now appear more desperate in their run for men and money than their primary purpose of acquiring quality education.
This is not a sad tale from a Nollywood movie.
A 19-year Toyin Ajayi (not real name), had the world at her feet, she was writing her West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), hoping to fulfill her long life dream of becoming a nurse.
However, life took a different turn when she lost her father to the cold hand of death before finishing her exams. In spite of this, Toyin, the first of four children, forged ahead and gained admission into the university.
Things were tough for her widowed mother, but sending Toyin to the university was top priority. Toyin Ajayi told our reporter her story from the brothel.
She narrated how she joined a bad company through a friend she called Lucia. She said ” I met Lucia during our matriculation ceremony in school, we are in the same department, but we did not really become friends until we met at a party where we got talking and exchanged contacts. At first, I thought she was a lesbian because of the way she was touching me and asking me about my body.
Later she told me that, I did not deserve the kind of poor life style I was living in school and that I needed to upgrade myself. She introduced me to some friends who would call me when there is a party to attend. Later on, at one of the parties we attended in a popular hotel in Akure (name withheld), they introduced me to some big men.
At first, I did not understand what was happening, until it was obvious that I had been paired up to have sex with a politician. I was very reluctant about that and I left the party angrily. The next day in school, my friend was so angry with me and asked why I bahaved like that in such manner last nigh. After much persuasions, I succumbed to what she asked for.
My first night was with a man who just came from Malaysia and after a long night of sex, he gave me N10,000. Though I was happy because, I was not used to getting that kind of money at once, At the same time, I was angry because, the guy used me very rough in the night, he had so much energy and he never allowed me to sleep. He took me on more than five rounds and I became very weak”, she narrated.
After that first night, Toyin said she never turned back from the trade. “I became used to the whole thing, and I was collecting more than N5,000 per night, I had to give a cut to the person who brought me the deal and send some money back home”.
She says that if she finds a better source of income, she will desist from the trade.
Across the nation’s citadels of learning, cases such as that of Toyin are not uncommon, but the nomenclature used to refer to such girls tends to vary. One of the popular terms is the word ‘Aristo’. The term evolved from the English word Aristocracy which means a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges, especially the hereditary nobility.
This suggests that the Aristo class of prostitutes are high ranking and in commercial sex parlance, different from call girls who advertise their merchandise by wearing skimpy dress and stand by the road. Aristos also known as ‘Runs girls’ are a brand of prostitutes found on the campuses, they are students.
An Aristo, at the school of Nursing and Midwifery, Mabel (not real name) gave insight into this. She said: “there is no difference because they can both be classified as prostitution. But what differs between the two is that runs pay more than the normal prostitution, also, runs are a kind of ‘contract’ while road side prostitution is like daily sex work whereby the person who does it is being paid based on the time she spends with her customer. For example, a normal prostitute may collect N2,000 for 15-20 minutes of sex. But an Aristo can be on call for twenty four hours. Another thing about the normal prostitute is that they can have sex with their customers on the road sides like beside banks and filling stations and anywhere, but runs girls used the best hotels, they have class, they work based on contracts and people who normally patronize them are rich men like company executives, politicians, business men among others.
“What this rich men do is to contract these girls through an agent. These agents are like normal students. If you go to any higher institution you will always find them there because they are the ones who bring business to the girls in schools. Sometimes you can get N250,000, or more to spend in one or two weeks with a rich man, so runs girls are high class prostitutes. You don’t see them around often, they only come around if you have a job for them. For example, I have a couple of friends who go to school in Rivers, Kogi, Osun state etc but works in neither Abuja or Lagos. Runs girls don’t behave like prostitute in fact most of them are undergraduates”, she explained.
A 200 level of one of the popular universities in Ondo state, names withheld, disclosed to The Hope that her former roommate was involved in the runs business, adding that she had been invited to join the group, but she declined.
When asked what was it like living with such a student, she said ” I was very uncomfortable with it, and have always advised her about giving it up. There was a time she came back and told me she was always not emotional during the actual intercourse and felt guilty when some Naira notes are given to her. But she felt better that she was able to meet her financial obligations especially about her studies”. She stated further that she had advised her to stop the runs but all to no avail ” i did ask her to stop, to me her excuse was not tenable because I know her parents were not poor”, she stated.
She said that her friend returns with an average of N20,000 to N30,000. She vowed that she would never indulge in a thing like that, adding that if she need anything she will rather talk to her parents and family member instead of embarking on sex work.
Girls from higher institutions now gatecrash into parties in many cities of Nigeria. Most times, the agents who are fellow students organize them. Their presence is always common not only in cities that have tertiary institutions, but also those near and far. They are the Aristos in the social circles. They are everywhere. At parties organized by individuals, companies, political parties and very interestingly, in many government houses, you find Aristos bubbling and ever ready to serve men who could be their grandfather, it underscores how values have been murdered.
At a high class party in Akure which I attended as a reporter; the venue became colourful and warm when two buses, loaded with Aristos arrived, the guests had a field day.
Hours after a champion league match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in one of the Nigerian cities ended, a party was on at the Government House to celebrate the victory, Aristos flooded the place, a top government official had booked them. The party was interesting but so weird that a few guys went away with more than one Aristo. Orgy is not uncommon with Aristos once the pay is good.
The question of poverty may not be absolute reason why many young female students take to this lifestyle, but it surely contributes in some cases. However, findings showed that it is usually more pronounced in girls who transit from living a normal school life, after a few Aristos runs, to living big and thereafter a struggle to maintaining the lifestyle to which they have become familiar. A posh naive female student with a taste for trendy clothes, shoes and designer handbags would be vulnerable to such act.
She would go for the ‘less street more money runs’ with some randy executives for a night to maintain the lifestyle she chose for herself.
A 300 level student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Bimpe corroborated the idea saying “it is a lifestyle and not about poverty as people say’ why can’t they do some things more dignifying than flirting around? Why is it that when they get some money that could set them up for a business they still dont stop the trade? Why are they stuck in immoral act? Some of them make so much money that you will agree that it has to do with morals otherwise they would quit if it was about poverty.
You will see them wearing expensive clothes, shoes and handbags, is that poverty?”, Bimpe quarried. But what do you say of a girl returning to the campus and the parents give her just about N20,000 for her school fees and upkeep? There are some students in tertiary institutions who even get less. The boys struggle, appealing to one uncle or the other to help out, some do odd jobs to survive, some of the girls who suffer because of poverty also approach relations to help. But many resort to runs in school to make up and once they start making money and living higher than they were they find it difficult to quit.
Reacting to the situation, a mother, Mrs Adeyinka Kolawole said ” it is frightening because you don’t know what these children are doing outside and you can’t be with them. I am confident about what my girls can do but you can’t underestimate the peer pressure. I used to tell my children about all sorts of pressure in the university because I passed through the system. But to a large extent, I think it has to do with poverty. If a student has everything she needs, I dont think she will involve herself in this act. Home training is also important, parents have a lot to do to lay good foundation for their children. This issue has to be resolved immediately because with diseases nowadays our children are at risk”.
Jenny as she is fondly called was indifferent when she said that she was in the business simply for the love of money and good sex. She targets men who have just arrived the country from abroad because they have more money to splash. She said: “I just love good sex, no condition pushed me into that, I love the money too, so I go for what I want”.
Sadly, Obafemi Awolowo University is also known as hot spot for campus prostitution. Its popularity ensures a constant flow of cash to customers. The popular Moremi Hall is notorious for housing such girls.
Chidinma (not real name) said “men come to the female hostels in the evenings to call on ladies. If the lady chooses to answer them, they both go to have a nice time. But if she refuses, the men will move on to the next girl till they find what they want. Aristos work with some errand girls in female hostels. These girls show rich men who come around the pictures of different girls and the men pick anyone they want. Just like picking a style of clothing from a catalogue “.
Another OAU student, Faith Paul lamented on what her experience has been like with these pleasure seeking men, “I have never been tempted to engage in this act but I get approaches from time to time in the evenings, maybe because of all this curve I have on my body and my stature. I have heard of cases whereby some of our girls go with these men and never return. Some of these girls engage in it as a result of peer pressure. I heard somebody bought a car worth N7 million for a lady. They engage in it because of what they can get. Some of these girls come from good homes, but are not satisfied with what they get from their parents, some of them after missing lectures, test because of runs they go as far as offering their bodies to randy lecturer, for marks,” she disclosed.
Esther on this issue said that “the school runs have become some kind of profession for some people. Its just like hard drug, that if you don’t take it in a day you won’t be alright. However, when they go out, some make good money, it all depend on who they meet”. Students from other tertiary institution are not left out.
Sex education Expert and Counsellor, Mr. Afolabi Korede said the root of immorality among student’s and prostitutes can always be traced to a history of sexual abuse.
” I have counselled over 100 prostitutes and I haven’t met anyone of them who was not abused as a child. Most of these girls have their fathers, uncles and even pastors sexually abusing them at a young age. When they gain admission into higher institutions, many of them would have become so weird that they are easily lured into some kind of prostitution which they would blame on many reasons. For me, poverty has nothing to do with it. It is an issue of identity crisis. Such girls do not know who they are, that is why parents must ensure that their children have a healthy self esteem, insist on moral upbringing no matter how tough the circumstances may be. Why is it that many people are very poor, yet their female children live a disciplined life? So, it’s not necessarily poverty, although some argue that it contributes”.
A counsellor, Pastor (Mrs) Ogundeji Hannah who has helped rehabilitate and counselled women who wanted a way out of prostitution had this to say ” the way out is for you to empathize with them and educate them on the alternative. These girls who indulge in prostitution have an unusual boldness, so they dont allow people to intimidate them, so if you go to them accusing them and running them down you won’t succeed. You have to understand and empathise with them, find out why they are into it and provide better alternatives for them. You don’t just tell them to quit without providing alternatives for them. Let them know what they can do to get out of it. Dont start telling them the danger and disadvantages of their actions because these are things they already know. Most of them are ready to face the consequences. Just like drug addicts, some got addicted to it. What they need is rehabilitation. The students who indulge in it need a lot of counselling but it is better to start early in the families before things get out of hands. Children who are close to their parents and who always receive counselling from them hardly go astray”.
Also contributing, Mrs. Toyin said students who indulge in prostitution are worse hit as they cannot defend the certificates they parade which they got through ‘bottom power’. Obviously, it is the collective responsibility of parents, mosques, churches, schools, lecturers, government and other concerned Nigerians to ensure that campus prostitution is eradicated so that our society shall not be inhabited by future mothers and fathers who are already morally corrupt to the detriment of our generation. She narrated her experience with a female student from a popular university.
She said: “Some of these girls like herself are real students who as a result of various reasons engage in prostitution in order to raise money for our school fees and up keep, while some are professional students” the lady described professional students as those girls who never gained admission into the school but used money to buy off bed spaces from bonafide students from where they engage in commercial sex, sometimes claiming before their client that they are real students. According to her, this professional students could stay for years doing their trade and because men prefer to go to bed with students than engaging professional dirty harlots. These girls could do anything including forging identity cards just to have the status of studentship conferred on them in order to improve their rating before men. However, that does not rule out the fact that some of us are real students.” So, parents need to be careful the way they handle their children.