A dimly lit room, packs of condom, rolls of tissue paper and a hackneyed student size bed was all she needed for her daily hustle. No matter how unfit the wooden room is, it is one of natural pleasures. It is a room where hundreds of men have entered and left satisfied. Here is another man to add to a tally she will never be able to keep.
“Pull off”, she urged this reporter. Amorous whimpers from the dirty movie played purposely to arouse ‘customers’ readily unfold as a background motivation.
Having worked enough to own a television in her room, Adijat Komolafe is one of the elite in child prostitution. She is only 17.
Few minutes before, she had deployed her assets to lure this reporter to patronise her. Tall, busty with heavy waist beads, long eyelashes and piercings all packaged in well-tended facial make up, Adijat is endearing. She really looks young and adventurous.
She was dancing to Naira Marley’s “Tesumole” at the bar of Royal Bar and Brothel in Orile, Lagos when this reporter spotted her. The brothel is notable for child prostitution, PREMIUM TIMES learnt. It is December 30, 2019, a festive period in Lagos, one of Africa’s most populated cities.
Despite the noise from blaring music, Adijat was not carried away as she approached this reporter for business, transactionary sex business. Like Adijat, many other young girls were seen waiting for their customers who would either patronise them for a short-time service or till day break affairs. Males seeking sex are often called customers by sisters of the night.
Adijat demanded N1,000 for a short time sex before leaving the spot. From her utterances, one could easily tell that she is an underage battling for survival through sex work.
Although, Nigeria has no particular law prohibiting child prostitution, its sexual offenses act in section 7 stated that “a person who commits an act which causes penetration with a child is guilty of an offence called defilement.”
It prescribes 18 years as the age of consent and provides that a person who penetrates a child less than 18 is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for life. But here is Adijat who has been in the business since age 15.
Adijat held this reporter’s hand tightly as she led him to her room. The rule at the brothel is sacrosanct; no man is yours unless you indicate by holding his hand. On each side of the walkway are tattooed breast flashing, hoping that this reporter would change his mind.
Not satisfied with the way he was staring at her, one of the ladies taunted this reporter; “you no go look person wey dey you dey follow, abi you won carry two”. (Can’t you concentrate on the person you’re going with? Or you want to go with two?)
“That’s Anita, don’t mind her,” quipped Adijat. “She has been complaining about low patronage recently.” Anita is younger than Adijat this reporter learnt.
“She may look more mature because she started the business before me but I can tell you that I’m much older. She got here at the age of 12. You know men these days want fresh blood. Just like you wanted me. I’m sure if I look 30 and above, you won’t settle for me”, she smiled as she touched this reporter cheek in a romantic way.
Welcome to Adijat’s room:
Now in the room, Adijat fetched a male condom while hurrying her customer to “pull off” and get down to business. “You need to pull off to allow me to attend to you quickly. I should be out already for other customers,” she said with urgency.
“Can you charge a price high enough to compensate for this we are about to do?”, this reporter asked. She responded saying it depends on how rich the customer is.
“The N1, 000 you gave me is my legit money but you can give me more if we get the job done and you are happy with the way I serve you”, she said. ”
With an offer to double her pay for no service, Adijat let this reporter into her life’s journey after request and lobby. From her agitation, one could tell that money is the primary objective for the job.
“There are days I have sex with as many as 15 men in a day. It depends on the flow. Don’t be surprised that the busiest time is not even at night. We are many that work at night but only few work in the morning and afternoon so, when some men have break in their office or during lunch time, they sneak off for a quickie.”
How sex work became an option:
In 2016, after her father died, Adijat left Ibadan for Lagos with her uncle in a bid to strive for a better life. She has two siblings, then 8 and 10 respectively. Before the death of her father, Adijat’s mother had long been involved in an accident which cost her her spinal cord.
Her rough journey into prostitution took a significant turn few weeks after relocating to Abule Egba. Her uncle forced himself on her.
“My uncle threatened that my mother won’t believe me even if I report him. He threatened that I will be sent out if I let his wife know what we do. I kept quiet until a night that I saw blood rushing out of my vagina”, she narrated bitterly.
“My uncle’s wife saw me crying, noticed that I’ve been really abused. She insisted on knowing who actually penetrated into me. I confessed that it was her husband and that was the last night I slept in their house.”
The confession led to quarrel between her uncle and the wife. It was at the point of fight that she ran out of the house and never returned.
She left with no destination, slept on the street where she was repeatedly raped.
Having walked through several streets of Lagos fighting for survival, she eventually located Royal Bar and Brothel. Since then, sex work has been the only option for her. The proceeds go into catering for her dying mother and siblings.
Adijat has kept her ordeals and means of survival to herself. She made her mother believe that she has been working as a sales representative since she left her uncle’s place.
“Telling my mother now will only cause more damage to her health. I lied to her. At least, I now make money and visit home to make sure she’s fine alongside with my siblings.
“It is not what I want to do for life. I have savings and definitely, I will stop this job one day. May be after I own a provision store and comfortable. I definitely have plans of quitting but that will be after I’ve made enough money to be independent.”
Law, legislature and reality
There is no law against prostitution in Nigeria. In fact, in December 2019, a court ruled against the arrest of commercial sex workers in Abuja by law enforcement officials.
The Abuja Federal High Court presided by Justice Binta Nyako declared that officials of a security task force acted outside the law when they broke into apartments in Abuja suburbs around 11 p.m., February 2017, to arrest women accused of being prostitutes.
It should however, be noted that owning or running a brothel, being a pimp, trafficking persons for prostitution, use of children as sex slaves and other similar acts are criminal in all parts of Nigeria.
But in reality, there are many minors carrying out the activities of sex work in Lagos inner city sex trade with N1, 000 or less as payment.
Rafiu Olaiya, a counsellor, wants Nigerian government to be a signatory to international laws that frown at sexual exploitation of girls. He also challenged authorities to re-educate the younger generation about the consequences of prostitution in schools, churches, mosques, and other platforms.
Another social commentator, Taiwo Osunmuyiwa said there would be a reduction of cases of prostitution if there is adequate policy to eliminate poverty that force many kids to prostitution.