A group of commercial sex workers under the aegis of Nigerian Sex Workers’ Association (NSWA) has appealed to the federal government to legalize prostitution in the country so that they can do their work in a human environment free of violence, especially from their clients, thugs and law enforcement agents.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja during the inauguration of a new report titled: `Understanding the High Risk of Urban Sexual Networks in Nigeria’, National Coordinator of the group, Amaka Enemo, said legalizing commercial sex work will also make for effective control of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
She said that everybody was at risk, adding that most of the times, police and other law enforcement agents exploit sex workers when they raid their brothels or streets where they conduct their business.
Enemo said: “When they are arrested, some of the law enforcement agents demand and conduct unprotected sexual acts with the sex workers who do not have money.
“This exposes the sex workers to the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”
According to Enemo, decriminalizing sex work will reduce the risk and the violence sex workers faced in Nigeria.
She added that government would also benefit from the sex workers because they would pay tax.
The National Coordinator said that in Amsterdam where sex work is legalized, sex workers pay 160 Euros to enable them to stay in a `window for eight hours.’
She explained that window is a place where a sex worker stays to wait for her clients.
Enemo said the report highlighted areas and populations who are at risk of contracting HIV infections who were yet to receive any intervention.
She said the report also highlighted places in Abuja where sex workers do not know about condom, lubricants and other services.
She urged the public not to criminalize sex work but to protect sex workers in order for the society to be free of sexually transmitted infections.
“If a sex worker is infected with HIV and sleeps with a man and transmit the disease to him, the man will eventually transmit the infection to either his wife or girlfriend and others.
“The best thing to do is to support them, decriminalize their work so that they can do their work in a human environment,’’ Enemo added.