By Maria Famakinwa
The resolve of some women, particularly those engaged in daily commercial activities, to turn their breasts to piggy bank where they keep money, regardless of the health hazards due to how dirty and contaminated the notes are, all in the name of safekeeping continues unabated despite campaigns against it. This act dates back many years when there were no banks, a tradition which many of today’s women inherited from their parents.
It is surprising that keeping money inside brassieres which was practised in the olden days still exists among some market women even in this 21st century. According to them, they gradually got into the habit and now see their brassieres as even safer than conventional banks. Those who engage in this behaviour while speaking with The Hope at Oja-Oba in Akure, the Ondo State capital, maintained that their brassieres remain the safest place to keep money.
A woman in her mid 70s, Mrs. Moromoke Awoniyi, who sells bitter kola explained that she had been keeping money in her bra for years and saw nothing wrong about it.
On why she preferred keeping money in her bra instead of purse, she said: “I prefer to keep money in my bra so as not to misplace it. What I do is to keep the smaller denominations in my apron’s pocket to use as change for customers and keep the higher denominations in my bra where they are very secure.
“Besides, my declining age makes me to forget things easily. Before I started keeping money in my bra, it took days most times for me to remember where I kept my money. The stress of searching for money I could not remember where I kept was much for me. I then decided to be keeping it in my bra like some other women of my age. Since I have been keeping money in my bra four years ago, it has solved the problem of not knowing where my money is. Once I get home and remove the bra, I wrap it with the money and whenever I need it, I go straight to where my bra is. This saves me a lot of stress,” she said.
A vegetable seller who also indulged in the habit known as Iya Oyinyechi, said that she started keeping money in her bra three years ago when she discovered that her money was missing in her purse and her friend advised her to be keeping her money in her bra.
She said: “My children don’t steal, yet my money kept getting missing. I complained to a friend who advised that I should be keeping it in my bra. I took to her advice and since three years ago that I have been keeping my money in my bra, nobody stole my money again. I also sleep with my bra to be sure my money is safe, otherwise my business would have been ruined by the evil spirits that crept into my room to steal my money.”
When reminded that it is not good to keep money in one’s bra due to health hazards, she agreed but said that she was left with no choice. “I quite agree that keeping money in the brassieres is not safe, but not doing it poses a threat to my business. What I do most times is to first keep the money in a nylon before putting it in my bra to guard against any health risk,” she said.
Another woman who sells food ingredients in the same market, Mrs. Folakemi Famokun, explained that majority of women hiding money in their brassieres in the markets have no choice, in view of activities of area boys and other elements who rob them at the slightest opportunity. She said: “My decision to join the league of the women hiding money in the brassieres started two years ago when together with four other women I was going to Ogbese Market very early in the morning to buy goods, but all of us were robbed on our way to the market except one of us who hid her money in her bra. It was only the transport fare she kept in her purse that was taken away. Probably the robbers thought that she kept her money in her purse. It was a bitter lesson for the four of us who kept our money in our purses as they made away with it. From that day, we made up our minds to embrace the habit of keeping money in brassieres which has paid off.”
When told to look for another way to keep her money because of her health, she agreed but said that she would continue keeping her money in her bra until she could come up with a better alternative. “For now, I can’t think of any alternative that is better and safer than keeping my money in my bra. The N15,700 I was robbed off two years ago at Ogbese Market was borrowed from LAPO. I had to run to my elder sister in Oyo State who bailed me out when LAPO officials threatened to lock me up. If keeping my money in my brassiere is secure, I will stick to it because I don’t want a repeat of my past bitter experience,” she said.
The habit of keeping money in the bra is not limited to the older generation because some younger generation also do it. Bukunmi, who cannot be older than 30, also believes that the best place to keep money is inside the bra. The lady who sells sachet gin at a park in Akure disclosed that she is careless with money and the best way to keep it safe is her bra.
Her words: “Most times, while attending to customers, I mistakenly drop my purse anywhere and somebody else would pick it. I have lost huge amounts of money due to this careless act. Since then, I have decided to be keeping my money in my bra. After all, it will be difficult for anybody to put his/ her hands in my breasts and take my money. I heard that putting money in one’s bra puts one at risk of cancer and some other skin infections but I assure you, it is the safest way when you sell petty things like I do. I will rather put my money there than put it in the purse where it can be stolen,” she said.
A nurse, Mrs Wumi Akingbade, who condemned the act of keeping money in brassieres disclosed that bacteria are transmitted from currency notes which have been handled by all sorts of persons to the skin of the woman who keeps it in her bra, which could cause different types of skin infections. She also noted that the woman’s breasts, especially the areas close to the armpits, are often moist and, therefore, prone to bacteria which, when in contact with money, could be transmitted to the recipient of such money.
She added that the practice is of particular danger to a child being breastfed as the baby can easily take in bacteria while suckling. This, she explained, could lead to diarrhoea and vomiting, which is dangerous to the health of the baby. She said: “ Most market women are not conscious of the healthy practice of washing their breasts with mild soap before breastfeeding their babies, if such nursing mothers keep money in their bras and breastfeed their babies without washing, the breasts will expose their babies to infections,” she warned.