‘I can’t pay my bills’ – Nigerian sex worker cries amid virus restrictions

Mohammed Awal May 10, 2020
Nigerian prostitutes wait for customers 14 October, 2000 in sexy wears at the Victoria Island district of Lagos. All over the country, large number of women work full-time or part-time in the sex trade, according to UN and human rights workers fighting the industry.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economies of countries has been devastating, causing massive layoffs and in some cases, salary cuts across all businesses and sex workers are no different.

The outbreak’s impact on sex traders in Africa has been so enormous to the extent that heads of government across the continent were petitioned by the ‘night angels’ to consider them as essential service providers amid lockdown to curb the spread of the deadly contagion.

This brings our attention to Aisha (not real name), a sex worker in Northern Nigeria. As the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases surge, a nationwide lockdown was announced to contain the spread.

Aisha, who lives in the mainly Muslim state of Kano, which is in the fourth week of a lockdown described to the BBC, the devastation the pandemic has caused her financial strength. She tried to carry on working, but it’s not possible because of the lockdown, and also because of the Ramadan period.

“Almost everybody here is a Muslim, so it’s not possible because in the afternoon they are all around with their family and in the evening they want to go and break their fast with their family.

“Most of our clients are married men, so it’s not easy for them coming out,” Aisha cried.

Kano state and several other enclaves in the north introduced Islamic law, known as Sharia in 2000, banning prostitution, gambling, the consumption of alcohol, and many other vices.

“We just have to look for another alternative and another means. The government doesn’t even want to know how sex workers are doing here in Nigeria. But my funds are finished. They’re gone. And I don’t have any alternative,” Aisha said. “I am able to pay my bills because of the support from some clients – those that care.”

The little Aisha has, she shares with her sisters. “So it’s not easy. And I don’t know how long this is going to be. She said she “feels disappointed that my government hasn’t given us any support. The government is not trying at all.”

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: May 10, 2020


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