27 January 2013

Nigeria: 'My Husband's Death, El-Rufai's Demolition Forced Me Into Prostitution'

The recent visit of the Global Fund on Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria monitoring team led by Andrew Hurst was to Nigeria gave a detailed insight of the life commercial sex workers.

Behind Mass Park in Zuba, a satellite town in Abuja is Blessing Udeh, easily described as "your everyday type of woman. There's nothing in her gait or looks to suggest that she is in what many refer to as the oldest profession in the world.

Probably in her late 40's, she's a widow with three children who seemingly had a good life with her husband until fate played a cruel one on her by snatching him away.

An indigene of Imo State, getting Udeh to talk took some effort as she fought severally to control her emotions.

She stated: "My husband died and left no money for the family. So, I had to fend for myself by joining the business (prostitution) to keep body and soul together."

According to her, she had a fairly good life, as a full time housewife, with her husband who was in solely charge of the family's upkeep until he died.

She also disclosed that it was as a result of the devastating effect of the demolition exercise carried out by the former minister of the Federal Capital, Mallam Nasir el- Rufai that claimed the life of her husband.

"The building my husband built in Karmo was demolished by El-Rufai. This affected my husband so much that he couldn't rise up financially again after that. It was the effect of the demolition that affected him and he died eventually. After his death, my children and I were thrown into abject poverty. There was no where we could start from and nobody or even relations were willing to help us. It got so bad that my children who had dropped out from school, and I were begging daily for sustenance."

The mother of three, who claimed to have embraced the profession recently when all else failed, disclosed that life too in the fast lane is not as rosy as she thought.

She said that she makes between N500 and N2, 000 a night which is meagre compared to the amount they pay for lodgings at the brothel.

"We pay N5, 400 for accommodation weekly and I have not even gotten enough to pay this week's rent," she said as at the time of conducting this interview.

She, however, appealed to the federal government, well-meaning and wealthy Nigerians to come to her aid.

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