By MAGNUS EZE
The popular saying that nothing sells like sex is fast losing currency in Abuja, the nation’s capital, due to the cash crunch in the all sectors of the economy.
Daily Sun investigation revealed that recession has hit the sex trade in Abuja, engendering some form of glut.
Checks in the city centre and the suburbs indicated that those plying the world’s oldest profession are not finding it easy at all.
From Nyanya to Kubwa, Apo to Dei Dei, the story is the same; even in the Wuse, Jabi and Garki districts, commercial sex workers, who most times prefer to be addressed as ‘Abuja girls,’ are lamenting a shortage of clients.
Their predicament is further compounded by the usual lull that comes with the new year, after most people would have lavished their savings on celebrations during the Yuletide.
The implication of the foregoing as in economics is that there is commodity crunch, which implies that the commodity price has deteriorated. This is akin to a little money chasing many goods, leading to further fall in price.
Daily Sun gathered that sex hawkers now charge as low as N300 in the suburbs of the FCT, while N1,000 could fetch any fun seeker a nice time in some parts of the metropolis, compared to N1,000 and N5,000, respectively, prior to this period.
At City Rock in Mararaba, a densely-populated boundary settlement of Nasarawa State that services the FCT, sex workers are contending with very hard times. Some of them complained that it is getting more difficult to find men who would pay N500 for a round of sex anymore, because of the economic recession.
One of them, who gave her name as Rita, said that some prospective clients these days haggle to pay N300 for a treat. This, she said, they sometimes accept since it was better than nothing: “It’s not easy at all for us. We have to pay for the accommodation here, feed ourselves, take care of ourselves in case of diseases and also try to save something. People now just come here to drink and go home. Even old customers who used to pay N1,000 for one round sometimes now beg to pay N300. For me, if I know you before as customer, I will collect.”
At a popular red light district in Nyanya, where prostitution has thrived for years, the scenario was not different.
In Kubwa, the largest satellite town in Abuja, call girls at two places visited by our correspondent also complained of poor patronage. Woman Bokwu, an area made notorious over the years because of the large number of ‘take away’ girls who swarmed about the place has almost lost its bustling nature. A visit on Saturday night showed a few scrappy-looking girls scrambling for the attention of some prospective customers.
At a popular bar new Pipeline, where commercial sex workers discreetly ply their trade, the only available girl, Angel, lamented about the hard times.
The lady, who claimed that her father hailed from one of the Niger Delta states, and her mother from Anambra, disclosed that she had been the only person there since November: “This place has eight rooms, but since I returned early November, I have been the only person here. I am sure that it is hardship that made others to leave. You know we pay N2,000 every day for lodging here. But look at the time, 10pm, and as I speak with you, I’ve seen only one customer today.”
Angel revealed that she would be leaving Abuja for her state, where she would be sure of at least food every day, adding that she might stay there for about three months until things may have improved before returning to Abuja.
However, it was business as usual at Liberty Hotel, along Arab Road, which hosts the highest concentration of resident commercial sex workers in Kubwa. Not a few men who patronised the bar took time to saunter into the area occupied by the call girls.
It was gathered that the driving force of the business at Liberty Hotel was the cheap price of beer and the large screens that usually show European football matches free of charge.
A night with Abuja girls
It was an adventurous night, starting for Eden Park & Garden, along Augustus Aikhomuo Street, Utako, where a large number of ladies of easy virtue lined the street before 8pm. These girls usually came from different parts of Abuja, though it was discovered that many of them live in the squalid parts of Jabi.
The pattern was to rush at any car that pulled to a stop along the street with the question, “Short time or day break?”
A young lady, who gave her name as Tina from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, explained their methods and tactics to Daily Sun without knowing she was speaking to a journalist.
Tina, an apprentice hair stylist, claimed to have come to Abuja about six months ago; to her, the job does not call for desperation: “I prefer short time because I am new in Abuja. Some people will charge you N4,000 for short time but me I take N2,000 because I know that things are hard. I will pay N500 for the room.”
Asked where the deal would be consumated, she led the reporter to 50, Anthony Enahaoro Street, Utako, about three buildings away from Icon Valley Hotel, which, it was gathered, the security man had converted to a sex centre. There was a Toyota Camry packed on the premises, though the building appeared unoccupied.
People strolled into the compound at will to have bouts of sex. The first point was the gate house, where a small mattress was placed on the floor, with a locker as the only other item in the cubicle. When our correspondent threatened to leave if there was no bigger and better place, he was taken by the security man, who gave his name as Blessed, to another point in the main building.
The security man charges N500 only for the use of the place for a quickie. Blessed must be making a ton of money daily, given the number of people that patronise the place.
Tina said she could take N5,000 for a night, but added that some could charge N3,000 for ‘day break’ anytime from 1am.
Having rejected the place, our correspondent gave her N500 for the inconveniences, which she accepted with thanks; but after a while she came back offering to do a blow job in the car, if another N500 were added to her tip.
At Eden Garden, another call girl named Oge, who claimed that she lived near the Apostolic Church, Jabi, said, if paid N2,000, she would offer her services in her room.
Visits to popular spots along Aminu Kano Crescent and Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Wuse 2, threw up the same result. Many call girls would move to the popular lounges after 1am. Those operating around Sofa Lounge and Valencia Hotel axis, it was gathered, pay N1,000 to a security man at a building on Bria Street to have quickies there. They could also convince clients to drive into parking lots of hotels on the street where it would be done in the car.
Booming sex centre
One other booming sex centre worth mentioning is Imperial Hotel, on Kononko Crescent, Wuse 2.
This hotel, which has seen the best of times, is a notorious slaughterhouse of some sort for those who revel in sexual orgies.
A large number of girls of all ages, shapes and sizes parade the frontage of the hotel; they even get to the point of almost physically fighting for men. They bring all manner of antics to play in the name of value addition.
A young lady named Jessica in her early 20s, who hopped into our correspondent’s car on sighting him, offered to show him her room first. She boasted that, for N3,000, she would render a total package.
A ‘total package’ meant any service required by a client, including blow jobs. Jessica further said that, for N2,000 each, she and her friend would make it a threesome with the reporter: “It is better we do threesome, you will enjoy it very well. I and my friend will work on you. Try it, it is the best you can have.”
Jessica lamented that they were passing through excruciating times; the greatest burden for those who lived in hotels and chalets was paying daily rent. She said that the managers of the place usually locked up the room of any occupant who failed to meet her financial obligations.
There is a new group of supposed big girls, who rent apartments within the city centre, hang around high-profile lounges, parks and gardens over drinks and wait for clients.
The cars are expected to up the game for them as status enhancer; being already seen as big girls even among other hustlers.
Unfortunately, theirs has become a case of the rich also cry. In fact, the current hardship seems to have hit them most, since majority of them had elevated themselves beyond their means. They now have annual rent of N750,000 and above to pay as well as exotic cars to maintain.
This group would not interact with any man who cannot pay N10,000 for a night. However, if you cannot afford that amount these days, the first thing that a prospective client would have to cough out N3,000 to fuel their cars.
One of them who could not agree on a price with a man that invited her to Blakes Entertainment Resort, along Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki 2, at the weekend, insisted that the guy must give her N2,000 for her petrol. To avoid creating a scene, the man eventually parted with the N2,000.
These big girls live in Wuse Zone 6 and are mostly seen in Wuse 2 and parts of Gwarimpa. Some of them are graduates of tertiary institutions lured into the business by friends or unemployment.
Abuja-based development worker, Mr. Akpa Igwe who has championed interventions in reproductive health for over 10 years said the trade has actually been on the rise as more and more people are joining, since to them, it is a means of increasing their income.
On the risks involved in commercial sex work, he explained “There are different types of sex work and they are associated with various aspects of risk and health implications. Stripling and non-contact sex work are low risk in terms of adverse health problems unlike high risk sex work. Lack of adequate health care, homelessness, lack of qualification, stigmatization, in addition to sale of sex for financial recompense and poverty and other societal factors like violence produce negative impact on commercial sex work. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are other inevitable risks.”
Igwe urged the government to develop programmes to meet the need of commercial sex workers in the country, including mental health needs, housing, physical, financial and educational needs.