…Ply their trade in city to save costs
By Nguamo Aka, Martha Orubo and Amaka Agu
To the uninformed, they are the happening ladies in town. Their expensive dressing, except for a few who can hardly suppress the usual characteristics of the filthy trade, would recommend them as members of the highly exclusive corporate ladies club. Not a few of them drive in posh cars and their gait tell the very opposite of their trade. They are of the ever increasing population of sex hawkers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)!
Others call them part-time prostitutes, but residents who have been long enough in the capital city call them ‘runs girls’. These are young women in different shapes and forms who live solely on warming the beds of those who can afford their fees. And in case you do not know, they are patronized by all class of men from the high to the middle class, so long as they can pay for the fun.
If you expect to find these big gals in equally impressive homes in the city centre, you are dead wrong. This class of fun-hawkers, as checks by Abuja Metro team revealed, find cheap shelter in the slums that dot the nation’s capital, but sell their fleshy ‘wares’ in the city centre, including the highbrow areas and hotels.
In the ghettoes of Utako, Jabi and Garki villages, amid overflowing heaps of refuse and stench, most of the runs girls live in single rooms without basic social amenities. In such areas, they are found in thick clusters of small, dilapidated mud huts, with roofs and ceilings made of scraps of wood, gunny sacks and metals. Sometimes, 10 to 12 of them live in the same room.
As if in agreement, none of the runs girls was willing to explain their queer choice of places of abode. However, Abuja Metro team spoke with many of their neighbours who readily gave helpful accounts of the modus operandi of the girls, some of who are students of tertiary institutions.
A female resident of Utako village, Chika Emeka, believes the slums serve as hideout for them. “At times, you see about eight or 10 of them in a room, and they pay their ‘madam’ who secured the apartment; maybe daily, weekly or monthly. It is not because they cannot afford better residential accommodation in cleaner environments. They make a lot of money but choose to stay here because it provides them some privacy. Those men who patronize them can hardly locate them because of the ugly things they do out there.
“Many of them are students. On one occasion, a student visited this place, saw one of her friends in school, who was regarded as a big babe on campus”, she said..
Another resident, Godwin Mark, told Abuja Metro the runs girls may have preferred the ghettoes in a bid to save money for their needs, knowing they have limited time to operate. His words: “To me, it is not as if they do not have enough money to rent houses in big places. Most of them prefer to stay here to save money. For example, I told myself that no matter the money I have, I cannot go and rent an expensive apartment because staying here saves cost and I think that is what they do too. It Is just a matter of choice.”
A carpenter in Jabi village, Mr Uzor Ken, who confirmed the high population of runs girls in the slum, narrated his experience with some of them. “They are here in Jabi and you see many of them in a room. Is that how human beings ought to live? They are old enough and they make a lot of money, but still live in a place like that, packing themselves in one room.
“One day, I went to Wuse zone 5 to work for one lady and received the shock of my life. I regretted going to the place. I saw many of them in the room and they were all naked! It was annoying and I had to rush out of the place. They believe that a place like this is very convenient for them because some time ago, I saw the police arrest them outside this place. So, they prefer this place to the organized residential areas because you can easily find cheap one- room apartment here.
‘They usually lock themselves up in the room from morning till evening, when they go out to work. Some of them are my neighbours and you hardly see them. They are more than seven in a room and it is only one person who rented the apartment. The others stay under her and pay to her weekly. I gathered that they pay N3,000 every week but they make more money than the landlord in most cases.”
Another resident of Jabi village slum, Chukwudi Matthew, said: “Many of these girls you see around here are into prostitution. They have class. Some of them deal with Senators and other big men in the society, while others are just common ones. Many of them that live here are the common ones, but some of the very rich ones also stay here. Most of them hide here because they know that their work is illegal.
“One of them is my neighbour and she does not hide herself. She is very rich and she even has a car. If you are interested and you have the money, you can come and pick them up. Some of them live here because they need to save money to maintain their skin, which is their selling point.
“I am saying this because of the encounter I had with one of my neighbours who is also into this business. We had a fight and when I told her that her colleagues in the business live in better houses, she told me she would rather, spend the money taking care of her skin because it is her selling point.”
So, that is what most of them do. They have the money but they just like to live here in the slum.”
Also, Mrs Makama, a resident of Garki village, told Abuja Metro that most sex hawkers prefer living in slums because they do like to hide their identity from the men who patronise them. Also, she said five of the girls or more could squat in a room because they do not have permanent address. “They can relocate at any time. Many of them steal money from their customers and give them fake identity and address and for them, the slums are the perfect place to hide”, she said.
Mrs. Makama blamed parents for the increasing involvement of young girls in prostitution, stressing that the upbringing of a child matters a lot in shaping his or her future. She urged parents to stop pressurizing their daughters for money, saying: “Some parents do not care about the type of job their children do. All they care about is for their children to send money, food items and so on.”