It appears that sex crimes against children in Nigeria has permeated every facet of life as underage child prostitutes are discovered in Lagos.
Before The Nation published the story headlined ‘Revealed: Lagos slave camp where underage girls are recruited into prostitution’, the brothel was notorious for a racket organised by a prostitution ring similar to what obtains in Italy.
Report on the brothel had indicated that teenage girls were being lured into the prostitution ring with promises of a better future. Upon recruitment, the girls were placed under the tutelage of older and more experienced prostitutes called aunties, for a period ranging from six months to about two years. Within that period, the young girl is made to sleep with men and surrender their earnings to the auntie.
However, The Nation quoting authoritative sources report that the managers of the brothel and several others in the Bariga and Oworonsoki areas have taken steps to rid them of underage prostitutes. According to a source, the brothels hurriedly ferried all the young girls into unknown places the morning the report hit the newsstand. By the evening of that day, all the girls were said to have been gathered somewhere and given money to transport themselves back to their respective homes.
“On the day the report was published, the proprietors of the brothel, fearing that the police could storm the place, took all the girls to a hideout to pass the night. The following morning, which was a Sunday, they gathered all the girls and gave them money to go back to their homes,” the source said.
The source also disclosed that one of the proprietors, while lamenting his loss, said about 28 young girls had to leave the brothel, leaving him with only mature prostitutes. “It was a serious thing. The man was driven to tears. He said about 28 girls had to leave his brothel, leaving him to make do with the meager income from older prostitutes.”
Describing what led to the crisis as pure greed, the source said it was believed that one of the underage prostitutes must have invited the media after her aunty extended her period of service beyond the initial six months agreed on.
He said: “The girl was supposed to spend six months to serve the aunty. But after completing the six months, the aunty said she was not impressed with her performance and extended the service period. The girl, the proprietor said, later took her story to the media.”
When journalists visited the area shortly after the young girls were expelled, one of the girls, while lamenting her condition, said she was feeling sick because of what had happened. Asked what the ailment was, she looked up, gave a sheepish smile and said: “You don’t know that if one suddenly stops doing what one has been doing for a long time, the person may fall sick?”
She, however, said she was tired of prostitution, saying she was ready to quit if she got a job. “Please help me to get a job. I am tired of this job. I will appreciate anything you can get for me,” she said.
Proprietors of brothels populated by prostitutes in the Gbagada, Oworonsoki and Bariga areas are said to have quickly swung into action to ensure that the underage girls don’t return to the brothels. Stung by the report, the proprietors were said to have come up with a code of conduct for the all the prostitutes in the areas.
The prostitutes are made to fill a form specifying their true age, name and state of origin. They are also made to swear an oath not to bring any underage girl into the brothels.
The source said: “The proprietors gave the prostitutes a form to fill. In it, they are asked to fill their names, age and state of origin. I think the people are very serious this time around. That story really disrupted the operations of the cartel in this area.”
Meanwhile, a police team from the Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) was said to have visited the brothel to ascertain the veracity of the story. The proprietors of two brothels in the area were said to have been invited and handed a stern warning to stop the practice.
The source, who witnessed the police invitation, said the proprietors have vowed to ensure that underage prostitutes don’t operate in their brothels.
“They are very worried. As I speak with you, they are doing everything possible to make sure that the activities of the young girls don’t affect their business,” the source said.