Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
government and private companies are not the only ones counting losses resulting from the #EndSARS protest. Commercial sex workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are a part of the wailing team.
They lamented that the protest erupted unannounced and quickly spread like wildfire. The development left the cocottes frustrated and cash-strapped.
Commercial sex workers confessed to Daily Sun that this is one of the worst years they have experienced since they joined the business. They begged the protesters never to regroup and distort their means of livelihood, especially during the festive season that is few weeks ahead.
Evelyn Ayo from Wuse 2 said: “This year is terrible. In fact, it is a very big mess. I have not witnessed this kind of year before. Anyone, who sees the first day of 2021 needs to do thanksgiving because this year is something else.
“It started with COVID-19, we stayed home for months. Even when government gradually started easing the lockdown, they did not consider us, the night workers, forgetting that we offer essential services too. Most of them at the top there cannot do without us forget what you see in the public.
“Since March I have not made any savings, it has been from hand to mouth. When they came up with the lockdown, all our good customers could not stay with us, no official travelling, which was the best time we could get good money from them. It became very difficult. Now that things are beginning to take shape, it is #EndSARS.
“I am tired with this whole thing, business in Abuja is not what it used to be. Most men are afraid to stay out late and that is where we make our money. We are gradually getting to the end of the year and nothing to show for it.
“This is the right time to start gathering things like clothes, foodstuffs and spend on our bodies to be able to represent Abuja well when we get home for the holidays. With what I am seeing, I am not sure one will travel this year.”
Another commercial sex worker, Dooshima from Jabi, said: “A This customer took me on short time. Immediately after the show, for me to collect my charges, what we heard was a loud shout and everywhere scattered and people started running. When he moved to the door, I thought he was just going to see what was happening, that was how he left with my phones and money.
“I am beginning to see it as a planned deal. It looks like it was his men who raised that alarm so that he could run away. We Nigerians are very wicked. We try to make use of any opportunity that comes our ways to cheat others.
“Yes, he has succeeded in cheating me but this world is a very small place. I will surely meet him one day whether in this Abuja or elsewhere. I won’t mind, even if it is in the market, he must pay for the phones and services I rendered. I will show him the attitude of a prostitute and after that, anywhere he sees a runs girl, he will run away.”
Another cocotte, Fine Face, from Maitama confessed that feeding is now a big deal: “Most of us you see wandering up and down find it difficult to get any offer from men now, whether short rest or lodging, irrespective of the fact that prices are cheaper compared to what we used to charge. Although, things were also tough before it started, but not as bad as it is now.
“Most men are still afraid of patronising us because of COVID-19 since they cannot have sex without body contact. Though, most of us carry sanitizer along but there is still no permanent customer. If you are lucky to see any man now, just look for extra way of convincing him, if not you will go to sleep hungry.
“The economy has been unfavourable even before the COVID-19 pandemic and now this one is on board. That is why we now find it more difficult to survive.”
Ella from Wuse Zone 6, said: “This coronavirus and protests have spoilt business for us. Most of our customers do not stay out at night again. Night is the major time for our business.
“Some men you see in the day who will be claiming big in the daytime are all our customers. This situation in the country has chained them indoors. Even most of us settle for as less as N500 now so as not to go back home empty handed.
“Sometimes, I trek home after fruitless outing. After the protest the road will be blocked, heavy traffic, that means we still have a long way to go. Coping without customers is now extremely difficult. Some of us even fight because of men now because very few men patronise us. I do not have any other trade than ‘runs’.
“I pray that the pandemic should end as quickly as possible so that the business will pick up again and God answered. But we have entered another one that is more than the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown, you could secretly look for customers but this one involves violence so everyone is afraid of moving out. Even feeding is now a very big challenge.”