It is no longer news to hear or see teenage girls getting into prostitution either willingly or by trick nowadays. But worrisome enough is the fact that it is increasing by the day in many parts of Nigeria. Alani OLUSeyi writes
They lured young girls into prostitution in various forms with tokens and see-through dresses to work in brothels, bars and clubs. They also work as sex slaves in factories. This phenomenon, perhaps, is due to the present economic hardship of the country.
Most of these under aged girls, during a tour undertaken by New Telegraph, were with little or without education. At some of the hotels, bars and brothels, visited in Ago- Palace way for example, also in Okota-Isolo, Ojuelegba, Idi-Oro, Mushin, Church Street, Oshodi, Olowu Street, Ikeja and spoke with some of the youths. Sandra Andrew (not real name), 14 years old, had innocent look on her face with a pretty shape and fully developed body that is enough to make a man turn twice.
She was the sales girl at a bar in Mushin, area of Lagos where the area big boys known as ‘Mushin big guys’ usually hanged out. She revealed the condition that brought her to Lagos: “I came to Lagos with a friend who ran away from home in Delta state who was promised to be taken to London to work as a Nanny.
She has since travelled supposedly to London over two years now and I have not heard a word from her. I was told to wait for the next batch but this is the second year of my waiting, nothing has happened and here I am, trying to surviving.
Life is not easy!” On why she did not go back to her parents in Delta state, she said, “I cannot face my people at home because they believed that I am in London, so I decided to remain here and work things out.”
A visit to a brothel along Ago-Palace way, by Enoma bus stop, there were plenty under aged girls and spinsters on short pants and see-through dress mingling together and seductively gesturing to customers to come patronise them.
At night the various shades and designs of lightings in the premises makes it colourful. In a chat with Janet Idem who claimed she is a customer service officer in the brothel, said she hailed from Akwa-Ibom, according to her “my uncle told my parent that his friend’s wife needed a young girl who can take care of her shop in Canada and he gave my parent some amount of money.
That was a deal! But look at where I now found myself.” On whether she has gotten in touch with her parent to relay what has happened to her, she simply said, “no.”
Another victim, who simply identified herself as Bibi, 17, spoke very good English language fluently.
Bibi held a stick of lighted cigarette in one hand and a glass of herbal mixture drink in the other hand while chatting with New Telegraph at a brothel along Church Street, Mafoluku, Oshodi; said “my friend lured me into it this business, since my Guardian could not afford to pay my school fee or register me to learn a trade, I had to listen to my friend who said she was learning a trade and that after six months her madam will open a hair dressing salon shop for her, unfortunately, we have spent two years and still counting, yet nothing has happened, each time the issue of shop is raised, we got threatened.”
At Olowu Street in Ikeja, capital of Lagos, some of the young girls were seen in the hotel premises in broad day light smoking cigarettes, substance like marijuana and different kinds of alcoholic drinks. One of them, who pleaded anonymous, spoke said, “I am a Lagosian and I learnt this trade from my mother before her death. She died late last year.
So I was brought up knowing this business very well. My mother built a house from the proceed of this business. I am personally comfortable with this business and I am sure I am going to make it like my mother.”
The increasing numbers of under aged girls that have been lured or tricked into forced labour in various factories and as sex workers in various environments such as brothels, bars clubs and homes has become a source of worry to individuals, families, Non-Governmental organisations and the government
When New Telegraph visited Mrs. Abimbola Whenayon, the Head of Department of Education in her office at Ojokoro Local Council Development Authority (LCDA) who has started working to rescue those underage girls; she reiterated her resolve to continue the fight to liberate under aged girls doing menial jobs and prostitution in hotels across the state.
She said that she has just resume at Ojokoro LCDA and that she was settling down to continue what she has begun in Surulere Local Government.
According to her, the project was very successful there and department was preparing to commence the project of “rescuing and rehabilitating of these under-aged girls.
The challenge we are facing is that of accommodation for them. We need Non-governmental agencies that will be able to provide accommodation for them just like we did in Surulere.
After rescuing them we’ll enrol them in schools and thereafter reunite them with their parents and guardians.” She added that they were working towards getting partnership with private organisations to train those who were not interested in school, in vocational skills to become self employed and employer of labour as well.”
However, she said, “This cannot be done without government’s support; the project can only be a success if we got the required financial support just like we got in Surulere.”
According to a psychologist, Dr. Aramide Sanusi, if nothing drastic is done to check the ugly trend in the country right now, almost every family will experience it either by having a member of the family as a victim or a prostitute, irrespective of their economic status or religious leaning.