Tackling International Prostitution

Apparently overwhelmed by the sky-rocking prostitution market in Italy involving more than 10,000 Nigerian girls, the Nigerian Embassy in Rome is embarking on new ways of convincing the call girls to give up their illicit trade and take to alternative business. The Embassy regrets that despite the regular enlightenment programs to convince the call girls to give up prostitution they have remained adamant and continued to embrace the illicit trade.  

We commend the Nigerian Embassy in Rome for its vigorous campaigns to rescue Nigerian prostitutes from the Italian prostitution market. Without any doubt, prostitution has badly soiled Nigeria’s international image. Various reports have it that the largest group of prostitutes from Sub-Saharan Africa is from Nigeria. Italy has become the prostitution capital of Nigerian prostitutes. Four out of every prostitute seen in any Italian street is a Nigerian. According to the United States Department of State report, of the 2,500 minors who practice prostitution in the streets of Italy, 2,300 are minors from Albania and Nigeria.  

Apart from Italy, Nigerian prostitutes have successfully invaded Spain, Germany, Belgium, Austria, United Kingdom and other countries. Nigerian prostitutes constitute the largest group of prostitutes in Norway. There are over 400 under-aged Nigerian prostitutes prostituting in the Netherlands. Majority of these prostitutes are recruited through the human trafficking industry. Most of the victims of this trafficking are unsuspecting young girls who are enticed with promises of good jobs abroad only to be coerced into prostitution on getting there. The name Nigeria also features predominantly in campus and internet prostitutions. These days it is not uncommon to see provocatively-dressed Nigerian female students standing along the major streets soliciting for prospective male sex-customers. Those unwilling to line up the streets, meet their male customers on the Internet.  

This is regretful as much as it is shameful. Where will prostitution lead us? To begin with, prostitution is illegal in Nigeria. It greatly offends public morality. More importantly, Nigeria has signed and ratified the United Nations protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons. Besides, since the commonest mode of AIDS transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa is through heterogeneous sex, prostitution provides the avenue for the spread of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.    

Therefore all must join hands in rescuing Nigerian girls from international prostitution. It is not only the job of the Nigerian Embassy in Rome. With her Idia Renaissance project, former Edo State First Lady, Eky Igbinedion, fought against Italian prostitution involving Edo girls. Similarly Atiku Abubakar, wife of the former vice-President of Nigeria waged a spirited war against international prostitution.  

But beyond all these good interventions, poverty and unemployment which are the major causes of international prostitution must be tackled. Most Nigerian girls are lured into prostitution simply to make quick money to fend for themselves and to help out their poor families. Therefore prostituting abroad is seen as a strategy to escape from poverty. If Nigeria were a liveable country, young Nigerian girls will not be fleeing the country to engage in prostitution abroad.  

The family institution which is the vital cell of the society must be re-invigorated. If parents discharge their duties at homes responsibly, the homes will not be producing prostitutes. In this age in which global efforts are made to promote the rights and dignity of women, a woman converting her body as object of pleasure or object of commercial gain is bringing disgrace to womanhood. Nigerian men fuelling international prostitution should be sanctioned. 

Prostitution is not our culture. Nigeria possesses an enviable rich cultural heritage which includes living a chaste life and having respect for the body. Let foreigners know us for these values, not prostitution.

This Day, 2010.03.09