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Sex Workers Protest in Lagos

Obviously sailing with the wind of change rocking the globe, sex workers at the weekend gathered for a protest and massive rally in Lagos to force the government to legitimise their age long profession practiced in secrecy.

The  sex workers who marched through the streets of Ikoyi with fanfare, brandished placards and banners with inscriptions such as “Sex workers have right, African Sex Workers Alliance,” stormed the streets in their numbers demanding justice and recognition 

Speaking onbehalf of the sex workers, the Executive Director of Save Haven International in Nigeria and co-ordinator of The African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA), Margaret Onah said: “One of the objectives of ASWA was to decriminalise sex work. Others are to control the violations experienced by sex workers like police harassment, clients beating up sex workers and a change in the attitude of some members of the public who call them ashewo (prostitute

“ASWA does not want such things to happen anymore. So we want to empower the sex workers to know their rights and to be able to fight for their rights.” They also called on government, especially the Lagos State government, to come up with policies to encourage sex work.

She also said that plans were in the offing to mobilise sex workers across the country to take over the fight for sex workers’ respect and rights.

According to a sex worker who simply identified herself as Joy, she has been practicing her profession from a brothel for about four years. She complained that they were mainly harassed by police and army officers who usually force their way to have intercourse with them for free.

“The problem I have is with the police. Every morning they come to my room to direct me anyhow, trying to sex me. It was just one day that I stood up to them. Since that day, I changed it for this particular policeman, he never came to my room again,” she explained.

George Okojie

14 March 2011