Many young girls have been driven into the sex trade, as a result of lack of socio-economic opportunities in Nigeria. Find below excerpts of an interview conducted by Naijavoxpop with a sex worker at Opebi Allen, Ikeja, Lagos.
What is your name?
My name is Cecilia.
How old are you?
I am 25 years old.
Where are you from?
I am from Ogun State, though my mother is from Auchi in Edo State.
Tell me something about yourself.
I am from a family of six and I am the last child. My father died when I was two months and twenty seven days. I lost my mother when I was thirteen years old. Even before my mother died, I had to take care of her because she was sick. We returned to the village from Lagos shortly after my mother fell ill.
When I was ten years old, I would go to the farm to extract latex from rubber trees all in an attempt to get money to buy drugs for my sick mother. I was the only one taking care of her; my siblings were not forthcoming with any help. Many people felt I was the only child, especially because I was the only one with her at home, only those who knew my mother in Lagos know that I had other siblings.
However, my mother finally died after suffering from a protracted illness and this was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. We all went our separate ways. The ideology of my siblings was that of all man for himself, since nobody sent them to school, they were not interested in the education of another.
I didn’t get help from any of them, I had to consider taking to the street because I was so determined to do something with my life by going to school. It was through my street life that I was able to purchase a General Certificate Examination (GCE) form to write my secondary school exam and get admission into the University.
How did you manage going to school and at the same time selling your body?
The truth is that it wasn’t easy because I had to leave school for a while to go and hustle. That was how I was able to finish school. Interestingly, I am the only graduate in my house.
How did you start prostituting?
When I came to Lagos to meet my elder brother, I told him I wanted to go to school. When I came, he was very happy because we had not seen for many years. However, the very day I told him I wanted to go to school, all hell broke loose. I wish I had not told him. After then, he stopped giving me N100 which I used get from him as chop money. I persisted and got enrolled in a GCE class. He didn’t know how I was attending lessons talk less of buying books. In addition, he was not giving me food to eat. I have a scar on one of my foot today because of hunger. I was so hungry at lesson one afternoon when my teacher called me to come and eat banana because I was so hungry I jumped out of my seat without taking note of a protruding nail on the chair, which torn my flesh. It was really painful.
Finally, my brother drove me out of his house after 3 months of arriving Lagos. He said that I should go back to the village and I told him who I am going to meet there, since our parents are dead. I was living on the streets. It took me another 3 months living on the streets with nowhere to lay my head. At night, I would look for a secluded corner to spread my wrapper on the floor and sleep with one eye open. I even slept in front of people houses. Thank God I wasn’t molested during that period, by drug addicts and criminals. I was not scared of being abused. My worst fear was that I did not know where my next meal would come from. Continue reading