So far, 2014 has not been a good year for commercial sex workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). AWAAL GATA writes on the reason, and the new tactics adopted by the sex workers to beat directives of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA)
Commercial sex is a very lucrative business in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), hence beyond many other Nigerian big cities, practitioners of the business hunt the city in hordes.
Between 2007 and last year, these women of easy virtue, cladded in skimpy dresses, dotted every major road and hotel in the nation’s capital.
But since mid last year, the FCT authority perhaps became fed up with the trend and therefore instituted directives to put an end to prostitution in the city. The authority, through its Secretary for Social Development, Mrs. Blessing Onuh, in fact, banned the “business” in the city.
“I am out to instruct the girls that the FCT minister has given them 48 hours to vacate the city and quit the job. They constitute a nuisance to the city and the FCT administration will not tolerate that. We are also sending warnings to those men patronising them to stop. Some of the girls are under-aged; it is child abuse. If we get you doing that, we will get you arrested and treat you the way CSWs are treated,” she said.
Apart from creating a special taskforce with the responsibility of arresting recalcitrant prostitutes, the FCTA, in its 2013 budget, earmarked N150m for their evacuation and rehabilitation. Other vulnerable persons such as the destitute were also considered in the budget.
Ever since, it is very difficult to see these commercial sex workers loitering around public places as they used to do.
However, that does not mean that they have left the city to trade their ware elsewhere as directed by the Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed.
Investigation has shown that the practitioners are still doing their business in the city, but not as they used to do.
Speaking to Blueprint on a condition of anonymity, a call girl said that after they were banned from the business in the city they had to go to the drawing board to devise a strategy of “eking out a living.”
The fair-skinned Public Administration graduate stressed that one of the means through which they are currently doing “their thing” is online prostitution.
She said this is done through the use of social networking service like Facebook, Badoo and 2go.
Corroborating her claim, a painter, Mutiu Aiyeni, told Blueprint that Badoo is handy for him when he needs a woman.
According to him, “what I normally do is to launch my Badoo wherever I am. Whether I am drinking in a garden or visiting friends, once I launch it, my handset will show me ladies who are on Badoo within that vicinity. It will bring out their pictures and we will begin chatting. Anyone I decide to invite will be with me within 10 minutes because of her proximity.”
He notes that while some of the “online prostitutes” will prefer to negotiate their price via online, others prefer the face-to-face negotiation, perhaps with some bottles of drinks to spice up the moment.
The use of smart phones is another veritable platform. Here, their agents with such i-phones display pictures (nude and semi-nude) of their friends and business partners, as it were, who are up for grabs. Once they gain the potential men’s attention, they show them the pictures from which they make their choices.
Our correspondent ran into one of such agents at a popular garden in the Central Area of Abuja and offered her a drink. To reciprocate the gesture, the lady, who claimed to be Benita, offered to provide her friend(s). “What are your specs (specifications)? You like them chubby or thin. What size of boobs and buttocks do you prefer?” These and many more questions came from Benita.
Without waiting for answers, she opened her Nokia Lumina phone and next was a series of beautiful pictures of young ladies in their early and mid 20’s.
Again, instead of loitering around, the commercial sex workers now sit inside drinking joints or hotel bars, occasionally engaging in one social debate or another. Indeed, since they dress well, it will be difficult to take them for call girls.
Commenting on the issues, a driver, Habibu Yunusa told our correspondent a story of how commercial sex workers contribute money to rent houses in the city centre with about five or more of them sharing a single room. He recalled how one of his friends who went in search of one of the ladies in Area 8 ended up sleeping with not only the lady but also with one of her roommates. Yunusa added that there is nothing for the government to do about it, because “they said they should leave the street and they have left.”