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Monday, 12 September 2011

OUR ANGELS AS WHORES By Emmanuel Onwubiko

 Miss Precious is a teenager who has just left one of the public secondary schools in the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory. Although she is so young that she has yet to start making extensive use of cosmetics to beautify her face and other parts of her skin, but she is such a beauty to behold so much so that you cannot help but notice her whenever she passes by because of some rare divine endowments that marks her out as a very attractive girl.
On a particular busy working day that I sat at the lobby bar of one of the most patronized five star hotels in the nation’s capital, Miss Precious approached me to seek for financial assistance.
At first glance at her, a thought flashed through my mind in shock of what would have brought this very young girl to a lobby bar so well frequented by business executives, politicians and other classy set of Nigerians that have one business or social meeting or the other to do. But at a second look at this ravishingly beautiful girl before me revealed that her dress sense gave her out as a girl from a well organized and morally up-right home because of the fact that she was decently dressed.
My genuine attempt to find out from her what would have made her to visit the lobby bar of this busy hotel was the tonic this apparently innocent looking girl needed to begin prolonged session of emotional outburst and weeping.
Every attempt I made to pacify this ‘strange angel’ before me yielded little in return as she intensified her wailing but my subtle threat to invite the security made her to stop crying and to open up to me by educating me on her travails.
The long and short of her story is that she was brought to the hotel by an elderly man who is her family friend on the instruction of her single mother who is in her early thirties and is a junior staff working under this elderly man who is a director in one of the juicy ministries in the Federal Capital Territory. Miss Precious told me in graphic details how her mother forced her to go home with this ‘big man’ but that on reaching the hotel room, the man sought to have carnal knowledge with her through what to her is unnatural and unafrican way but her refusal made the man to send her away without any transportation fare back home.
Because I have encountered dozens of ‘crying strangers’ of the opposite sex who often come up with cock –and- bull stories all in an attempt to extort some cash from me, I took her story with a pinch of salt.
But the narrative of Miss Precious appeared genuine and credible particularly because I asked her to take a seat while I made extensive enquiry from credible sources in the hotel regarding the identity of the occupant of the room number she disclosed and I found out that her story was factual and fairly accurate.
I demanded that she gave me her mother’s phone contact but she turned it down with the excuse that she would be severely victimized and brutalized if the mother found out that she did not only disobey her diabolical instruction to pass the night with her boss but she was bold enough to report her ordeals to a human rights and development practitioner.
I gave her some money and also some vital phone contacts of the Abuja head office of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Person and other related matters (NAPTIP), so she can make formal complaints about her unfortunate ordeals in the hands of her biological mother who has converted her to a domestic sex worker.
I am so much concern that our beautiful daughters who are angels in their own right are being converted into whores by the atmosphere of unprecedented feminization of poverty in Nigeria.
This trend is indeed a very dangerous development which will adversely affect the respect and promotion of the fundamental human rights of our young adult girls. I am also aware that some young adult boys have also started the illicit trade of homosexuality for commercial benefits in some of our cities but the involvement of young adult girls in prostitution has become gravely worrisome.
Before settling down to write this piece, I commissioned two female undergraduates at the University of Abuja and the Abia State University to source informed materials on this trend.
My resource persons who are third year law undergraduates painted very graphic pictures and told me gory tales of the large scale involvement of a great number of female students in prostitution all in a bid to meet up with some expenses in the campus and to also raise the needed cash to sort out some of their lecturers who have decided to institutionalize financial extortion as one strategy of improving their living condition as teachers.
To underscore the grave danger caused by this deepening social ill, the Women Affairs’ ministries of Cross River and Akwa Ibom States engaged in serious media warfare recently over allegation of infiltration of young female prostitutes into Calabar from the sister Akwa Ibom State.
The Cross River state commissioner for Women Affairs was reported in the media to have raised the alarm that the state capital is under attack from young females of Akwa Ibom origin who are engaged in the illicit business of selling their flesh to men of easy virtue. The Akwa Ibom State Women Affairs’ commissioner refuted the allegation that the young female prostitutes who invaded Cross River State are of AKwa Ibom State origin.      
Another source of worry is that for nearly a decade since the emergence of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Person and other related matters, (NAPTIP), that important organ of government has failed spectacularly to implement result- oriented awareness program to stop the spread of trafficking in persons and to effectively enforce punitive laws against the upsurge of involvement of our younger females in commercial sex activities.
Why has this very important institution not made it a point of duty to domicile their roving investigators and law enforcement officers to popular hotels in cities across the country to check the upsurge in the involvement of young female adults like Miss. Precious in the illicit trade of prostitution even against their will?
The trafficking in persons (prohibition) law enforcement and administration Act of 2003 as amended is replete with punitive provisions for offenders but this law has had little impact because of weak implementation.
That our angels have become whores was revealed in a recent news report by Champion newspaper of June 20th 2010 that some teen girls hawk sex in Port Harcourt, Rivers state for family up – keep.
Ademola Kazeem Fayemi of the department of philosophy, Lagos State University said only attitudinal change and the enforcement of radical economic empowerment programs for the female gender that can reduce the involvement of younger females in prostitution.
According to Fayemi; “It is clear that massive ethical re-orientation of the immorality of prostitution and human trafficking together with their hazardous effects are needed in order to educate women about their positions, the true causes of their plight, the potentialities of overcoming them and realistic modalities for effecting change.”
I believe that institutions such as NAPTIP and the federal and state ministries of Women Affairs must wake up to their statutory mandates so as to stamp out this ugly trend of involvement of our young female adults in commercial sex activities.
*          Emmanuel Onwubiko heads HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA; and can be reached on    

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