A popular night club in Abuja, Caramelo, was raided by officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and 34 female nude dancers were arrested few weeks ago.
Few days later, another set of 70 women from different night clubs in the city were also arrested.
While some of the women were released on bail, no fewer than 32 were charged to a mobile court, out of which 27 were convicted and sentenced to either one month imprisonment or pay a fine of N3000.
Newsmen had chats with several of the sex workers after the arraignment and they expressed diverse opinions about the job and their next resolution.
One of the sex workers and nude dancers told our reporter that prostitution and nude dancing is lucrative and professional, saying she has vowed never to quit.
“Tell me, is there any crime in using my body to dance and make money to train my kids in school?” she inquired unremorsefully.
Justifying that her choice of profession is legitimate and biblical, she claimed that even in the Holy Bible, there are accounts of prostitution, “so why are we making it to look as if it’s a new thing?” she queried.
She further stated that she uses the proceeds of her prostitution and nude dancing to sponsor her child, an undergraduate student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
The woman, in her early 40s, however lamented that she was forced to take to prostitution after several failed attempts to borrow money to start business from the banks and individuals.
“My sister, the condition banks gave me was not favourable to me. So I resulted into using what I have to get what I want.”
She also told our reporter that the arrest and prosecution made by the Joint Task Force was meaningless.
“If I pay my fine, discussion continues. I no be armed robber. I no de carry gun, na my ‘toto’ I dey take train my pikin for school. It is not easy to have a child in the Obafemi Awolowo University. I no go school but my pikin must go. I go bank say make dem borrow me money, dem say I must have so so so money. Who dey help (referring to the Social Development Secretariat)? Den say na them de carry girls for street, how many girls they don help? Prostitutes no de for inside Bible? Abi it is a crime make I naked dey dance. It is a job abroad, a big job. It is my body I am using to dance to make money. All these NYSC (referring to the Corp Members) will serve finish no job . I no de marry, I don get two pikin. I no de marry. I look like who de look for husband? After the arrest, then prosecution, what next? Discussion continues.”
Also apprehended and prosecuted, was a graduate of Applied Geology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, who told our reporter soberly that she was tired of the job because of its risks and repercussions. “You don’t know who carried you and for what purpose,” she said.
She promised that if empowered, she is going to quit the job because of its social stigma and health implication.
“I am even quitting now because this is an embarrassment. I was passing and they used the Young Shall Grow bus to double cross us and my friend started running and they picked us,” she said.
Speaking on what pushed her into the ‘profession,’ she said it was lack of financial support.
Narrating her ordeal, she blamed the government for its failure to provide jobs for university graduates and other youths in the society.
“I am a graduate of Applied Geology at FUTA. I went to bank of development that they should lend me money, they said I must have N1 million in their account before they can lend me money. I have tried all means to be somebody in life. I looked for good job after graduation from university, I couldn’t get anything. The government supposed to be more responsible by creating job for the citizens. What a country!” she said.
Reacting to the question on whether she will leave the job if government empowers her, she said, “I have been looking for them, because I am tired. This is not life. When you stand on the street waiting for customers, you risk your life. This is because you don’t even know who will carry you and for what purpose he will.”
Another sex worker, who claimed to be the bread winner of her family, said she ventured into the business of prostitution because of her poor background.
Her words:” My background is not okay. I have two children and my brother is not doing well. So I come out for ‘runs’. Whenever I come out, men use to like me very well. I am a lucky girl and I use the proceeds to help my family and it makes my family look as if we are okay. I am not happy about the job. I will leave it if they can give me job or give me little money to start business.”
However, one of the aggrieved prostitutes, a widow, alleged that some of the task force members were not fair enough because they ‘had sex’ with some of their colleagues and released them illegally.
Narrating her experience, she said, “I use to come out before Rev. Father come give me work. They pay me on time and I use the money for my children because my husband don die. Na me de take care of my children. I get accident come call one of my friends, na one uncompleted building I dey manage with my children. She come say make I come, make she find something for me and my children. So I no de commit again.”
Pointing to one of the uniformed officials, she bursts into tears and said, “Apayi know me. If I de come street, him go talk. I no de come street again because I don de manage for church. I go stop, I go even carry my children de go village, I don tire.”
Speaking on how she came into the business, she said it was after the death of her husband.
“I enter this job when my husband died. My children are small and there was nobody to help me. My husband was the only child of his parents. My children are three in number. But we have to eat at least even if they will not go to school. So, I de use my body.”
However, while speaking on the free skills acquisition programme organised by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) through the Social Development Secretariat (SDS) to alleviate their suffering, the Acting Secretary, Hajia Safiya Umar, said none of the sex workers came back for the programme.