EXCLUSIVE: Bayan Gari: Nigeria's emerging commercial sex slum
BAYAN GARIProstitution, like it is generally known, is as old as the world itself and what was once a thing of shame is now practised in the full glare of the public.Some women have even glamorized the trade and some see it as very lucrative, especially those that manage to travel out of the country to engage in prostitution.In Nigeria, prostitution is illegal in all Northern states that practice Islamic penal code. In Southern Nigeria, the activities of pimps or madams, underage prostitution and the operation or ownership of brothels are penalized under sections 223, 224, and 225 of the Nigerian Criminal Code.Even though Nigerian law does not legalize commercial sex work, it is vague if such work is performed by an independent individual who operates on his or her own accord without the use of pimps or a brothel.There are reasons why some ladies take to harlotry and most of the reasons may not just be far from the realities in the country — poverty and unemployment topping the list.This video clip shows sex workers living in squalid conditions in Bayan Gari – a suburb in Bauchi metropolis with brothels as breeding ground for child prostitutes.Oak TV took a trip to Bayan Gari in order to explore the slum which is home to many social vices such as prostitution and drug trafficking.During our tour, we interfaced with prostitutes in this slum and men who patronise them.In Bayan Gari, our video clips show where sex workers as young as 14, trying to earn money to survive, entertain around five clients a day.These poverty-stricken sex workers charge clients between one and five thousand naira (N5000), depending on duration of service.A 16-year-old sex worker (name withheld), who granted Oak TV audience, divulged that she turned to prostitution at the age of 14 in order to avert marrying a 40-year-old man she had no affection for. At 16, she is a mother with no form of formal education.Another respondent, a sex worker in her prime, disclosed she is the only female child of her parents who grew up amongst guys and feels comfortable being with the opposite sex.She lives with a man who isn’t her husband but lets him enjoy all privileges that come with marriage. He provides her with everything she needs and desires.She also practices prostitution in secrecy and entertains a maximum of two clients per day, billing between three and four thousand naira (N3000 – N4000) for short-time while an overnight stay attracts ten thousand naira (N10000).She admitted to using protection whilst having sex with ‘customers’ but not with her boyfriend.While she might be a sex worker, she doesn’t believe in using substances to increase her urge for sex but confessed addiction to substances like marijuana, cigarettes and codeine which get her high which enhance her sleep mode.Oak TV had another interaction with two men who visit the brothels to patronise these prostitutes – one a nurse and the other a student.Both young men confessed indulging in purchased sex on a daily basis and with no fewer than four different ladies – a move that amplifies their risk of contracting STDs such as HIV/AIDS.According to National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the prevalence of HIV/AIDs in 2014 was at 3.17 between ages 15-49.Studies in 2013 found that nearly a quarter of Nigerian sex workers have HIV/AIDS.Last year, another study by the Iranian Journal of Public Health noted that the country has a 4.1 per cent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in adults.As in most states of the Federation, one finds dedicated places for social gathering of people after the day’s job, where they go to relax notwithstanding that most of such event centres harbour criminality and sometimes nuisances to the people.Bayan Gari is located in the metropolis, just behind the historic Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, surrounded by hotels, cinemas, shops and places of worship and is being patronized by customers, mostly women and men of easy virtues.Bayan Gari is a social place that attracts hundreds of people, especially young and elderly people who patronise almost all the night life activities going on in the area especially in the 80s and making the place booming as traders also benefit from such visitors.Among the activities being patronized by such people include playing of cards, commercial sex activities, watching of cinema, beer parlours, gambling as well as accommodation for visitors. The place is not only being patronized by youths but civil servants, business men and sometimes retired top civil servants.