Poverty and plight of Nigerian prostitutes

Poverty is often hidden from the public eye, but for those who are struggling to survive, it is an inescapable reality. People living in extreme poverty are forced to make difficult decisions just to meet their most basic needs, including resorting to prostitution to feed themselves and their families. The cycle of poverty is difficult to break, and it often takes generations to escape. For those trapped in this cycle, the situation can seem hopeless.

Lagos state, with its large population and high level of economic activity, has the highest number of reported prostitution cases in Nigeria, according to data from NAPTIP. Kano state, another area with high rates of prostitution, is close behind. These two states, along with others in Nigeria, are facing challenges in providing basic social services and addressing the root causes of prostitution. Some of the factors that lead girls and women to engage in prostitution include; lack of social support for girls and their families, this can create a perfect storm of circumstances that can lead to prostitution. Second, without access to quality education or job opportunities, girls may feel that they have no options for supporting themselves or their families. Third, if girls are the primary breadwinners for their families, they may feel immense pressure to make money in any way possible, even if it means engaging in prostitution.

Some people who offer to help women and girls in need may actually be looking to take advantage of them. These individuals may offer support in the form of money or gifts, but expect something in return, such as sexual favours. This can be especially true for women and girls who are already vulnerable due to lack of resources or support.

And they often face marginalisation and discrimination after engaging in prostitution. In many societies, prostitution is seen as immoral or shameful, and those who engage in it may be looked down upon or treated as outcasts. This can lead to a lack of opportunities for those who have engaged in prostitution, as well as difficulty finding support or resources. The stigma and discrimination associated with prostitution can make it very difficult for women and girls to leave the industry and reintegrate into society.

Some people who have been sexually assaulted or raped may engage in prostitution as a way to cope with the trauma and abuse they have experienced. This is sometimes referred to as “survival sex,” and it can be incredibly damaging to a person’s mental and physical health.

However, many women and girls who lose their guardians and end up on their own are at risk of being taken advantage of or harassed by family members, friends, or strangers. When they feel they have no other options, some may turn to prostitution to make ends meet. This can be a difficult and dangerous situation, as it can lead to further exploitation and abuse. In addition, this type of situation can create a cycle of poverty and marginalisation, making it even more difficult for those who have lost their guardians to get back on their feet.

There are several potential solutions that could be implemented to help girls who engage in prostitution due to a lack of support and resources. One option would be to provide more educational and job training opportunities for these girls, so they can learn new skills and find meaningful employment. In addition, providing social support networks and access to mental health services could be beneficial.

Finally, efforts to address the root causes of poverty and inequality could help to reduce the likelihood of young girls turning to prostitution as a means of survival. Moreover, there is the need to provide better social services for victims of abuse, including trauma counseling and a safe place to live, also provide more opportunities for people to find alternative ways to earn a living, so that prostitution doesn’t feel like the only option. Lastly, there is the need to increase the penalties for people who abuse or harass sex workers.

Fadeela Mustapha Lawan,
Department of Mass Communication, Borno State University, Maiduguri