By Adanna Nnamani
Abuja sex hawkers are still at the receiving end of the COVID-19 pandemic. And they are angry, hungry and frustrated. Their customers have vanished into the thin air, no thanks to the pandemic.
Most men have reordered their priorities and sex is no longer one of them. Sex vendors are not finding the development funny. They are facing poverty arising from low patronage.
The few men who now patronise are asking to have sex for free.
Many of these young girls, aged between 19-35, say they no longer feed well as they go for days eating just a meal because of “customers drought.”
Tricia Mark (business name) wakes up everyday by 5am. She takes her bath and dresses up like a corporate executive and off she goes. Her destination is anywhere a man who picks her takes her to. That is her Monday-Saturday routine. On Sunday, she relaxes and worships God.
She patrols the busy Wuse-Kado corridor where she gets up to three customers everyday. That was before COVID-19. Things are no longer the way they used to be.
Even when she hangs around busy gardens and brothels, there seems to be no respite.
Daily Sun ran into her at a bush bar in Wuse 2. She was scantily clad with her fleshy wares in full display. Her voluptuous breasts and near-irresistible backside were attention grabbing. But the few men around merely admired from afar.
No one came close. They smiled lavishly at her instead. In the past, such men would fall over themselves to grab such a gorgeous beauty for the night. But the harsh economy makes this a bad move.
Mark confirmed: “My sister, it is not easy surviving these days. There are no men to rent my body. I don’t sell sex I rent my body just like the car hire service guys do. It is called body rentals.
“But whatever anyone calls my type of business, it doesn’t change the fact that customers have vanished. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I used to rent my body for at least N20,000 per night. One hour is N5,000. Above that is N6,000, which is like three hours maximum.
“You must use condom. I don’t charge higher without condom. Keep your money Mr man. I have lost three friends to HIV AIDS. It is not even funny. Things were fair before COVID-19. Business was softer. There was no cause for complaining then.
“But today, the few customers I see are asking for free sex to compensate for what they call “the good old days” when they paid handsomely. One even said he could only buy me a plate of eba without meat to enjoy my body.
“Unbelievable! Where is this done? Does that even make sense? Cost of body maintenance is vey high these days. There is nothing one will not hear in Nigeria. This country makes me sick honestly.”
Is she to quitting the business? She responded: “Where are the jobs? I have a diploma in business administration but lack of finance robbed me the opportunity to go back to for my HND. I’ve been fending for myself since October 2018. It has been quite challenging.”
Floxy Bola (aka floxybo), has been in the business August 2020: “Business is really slow. I am considering quitting this business. The risk is getting spine numbing due to insecurity. I now dread night movements but that is when some clients want you. Some will pick you up by 12 mid-night. Some will ask you to come over to where they are by midnight.
“At times, the taxi drivers won’t be willing to go. There are certain parts of Abuja they dread at night due to criminals, especially kidnappers and ritualists. Everyone is scared of young women these days because they feel the criminals use us as baits.
“Yet, we are battling low patronage. I forgot to mention police harassment too. They often raid our places and tag us criminals.
If I get another job, I will quit. I am a graduate. I have my degree but degree does not put food on the table.
“That is exactly why I am doing this. No man or even woman can give you N1,000 for free. It is that bad and I cannot survive on irregular hand-outs from benevolent people.”
For Mary Angela: “This is the only business I know. I love sex naturally and I am making money from it. Isn’t that double blessing? But I know things yare dull for now. Every business has its high and low seasons and that is exactly what is happening to our own business.
“COVID-19 has destabilised most corporate businesses and our customers are affected. I understand that. I have to keep praying for my existing customers (men) and new ones. I pray that God should empower them so they can patronise me and pay well. This too shall pass and it will be used to tell stories. That is my prayer.”
What if she gets pregnant? “Pregnancy is totally out of it. My men use condom and I also take contraceptive jabs to stay safe. I follow men whom my spirit agrees with. It is not all cars I hop into. I read about ritual stories everyday and I am careful and prayerful.”
Franca Ekhonye lamented: “This our sex-for-money business is becoming more and more dangerous. I got a customer last week that insisted I must wear a facemask before we had sex. It was so suffocating. I almost passed out because he was huge.
“He said he was protecting himself from COVID-19. All for N10,000. I am praying to God for a better business. This leads to nowhere. I am beginning to believe it is cursed money because I cannot see what I have done with all the money I have been making for five years. COVID-19 has really opened my eyes to appreciate the need to go into something better.”