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Archive for November 19th, 2012

A pseudo-event … comes about because someone has planned it, planted, or incited it. Typically, it is not a train wreck or an earthquake, but an interview.  –  Daniel J. Boorstin

It’s rare that I present an article about sex work written by a conventional journalist which lacks any obvious flaws; most of them have several, and some are absolutely riddled with them.  But every so often I discover an article which is so absolutely packed with errors, disinformation, myths, dysphemisms, stigmatization, infantilization and just plain stupidity, that it is like a train wreck:  horrible and repellent, yet exerting a hideous fascination.  This article by Bankole Makinde in the October 14th Nigerian Tribune is just such a disaster:

…Should one take to the statements coming from Abuja commercial sex workers, then there is nothing to worry about.  One might even conclude that nothing is wrong having them around, in view of what they termed; “Our contribution to economy”…most of [them] refused to be…addressed as harlots or prostitutes, but as “marketers” who exhibit their “products” to make ends meet…

Right from the start, Makinde’s bias is clear; he obviously wants his readers to think there is something “to worry about” when some women earn a living just as some women always have since time immemorial.  To his credit, he describes the “sex hawkers” as “enterprising” without a trace of irony and mentions that many of them support aged parents, but he’s equally glad to quote outrageous rubbish like this:

A top civil servant, who spoke…on condition of anonymity, blamed the growing permissive promiscuity…on the sex hawkers…“They will leave their campuses…for Abuja by the first flight on Wednesdays and travel back by the first flight on Mondays.  The money they make from prostitution is spent on bribing their lecturers so they could be awarded marks to pass them in their courses, though some spend the money to buy drugs.  After graduation…[their clients] find jobs for them in the civil service.  Since they learnt nothing in school, they would not be able to even draft a memo”…Abuja sex hawkers don’t believe in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), they often negotiate with their customers based on whether they (the customers) want to use condom or not.  Aside that the customers must be ready to do vigil making love to them otherwise they could lose all their valuables before dawn…they are not afraid of being used for rituals too…

In other words, they’re all stupid, drug-addicted, ignorant, diseased, jet-setting thieves and witches.  Makinde also seems to consider it astonishing that “some of [them] have…organised themselves into cooperative societies,” and willfully misinterprets their stated motivations to declare that “the reason why many of them took to it had nothing to do with money”:

“…if you are lucky to locate one guy that could satisfy you, you don’t bother disturbing him to give you money…Same reason, I’m sure drove many girls into it”…

Sounds like money to me.

…another student…said she was into prostitution because she was the breadwinner of her family since she lost her father six years ago…“I have vowed that all my younger ones must be graduates, so that they won’t experience what I am experiencing presently.  So, I must work very hard now when I am still capable and able.”

Yep, that sounds like money, too.  Of course, “many people” (i.e, many non-sex workers) who spoke to the reporter offered their ignorant opinion “that the ladies were involved in the dangerous trade because of greed,” which is what people call the desire to earn a decent income when the person with that drive is a woman; in a man, the same thing is called “ambition.”  Still, you’re probably thinking that this article isn’t all that bad, and that you’ve read worse in American media.  And that would be true so far, but we’re just getting to the good part.  Above we were told that whores are witches, and now we see that they’re affiliated with another dangerous sexual “cult”:

…prostitution…seems to have taken another dimension as cults of lesbians and gays in the [Federal Capital Territory] have emerged.  Many people dressed in sexually attractive attires…could be seen in the public cuddling and kissing one another in various parks and recreation gardens in the city…When contacted on how to tackle the social menace, the Director of Social Welfare Services…Mrs Folashade Ayileka, said the secretariat was helpless.  “They…have their rights guaranteed in the constitution; so, you cannot force them out of Abuja but continue to sensitise them to the dangers inherent in the business.  The other time we raided a popular brothel…we rounded up many of them and asked them to convince Nigerians on why they should continue with the illicit act…we found out that over 90 per cent of them were not even from FCT but from Lagos, Benin, Jos, Kano, Port Harcourt and so on”…

The horror!  The horror!  Roving gay and lesbian cultists canoodling in parks, and it’s all those dirty whores’ fault!  And some of them weren’t even from the capital, but from other cities!!!! I weep for Nigeria (weep I tell you!) and especially for the children.  WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

…On what government is doing to stem the tide and bring the ladies out of prostitution, Mrs Ayileka, said that her organisation was…[looking for] a lasting solution to the problem…“At Bwari rehabilitation centre…we graduated 407 women [this year], among them were 137 repentant sex workers.  We attend to other categories of women too such as vulnerable women and single mothers that could be attracted to night life.  So, rather than allow them to get to that life, we decided to create an intervention method.  We believe that if we empower the mother, the child would be off the streets”…

So first hookers were a gang, then a cult, and now a “tide”.  The use of the word “repentant” demonstrates that it’s a sinful tide, full of skinny-dipping floozies, hussies and jezebels who fall into the dirty, scummy water and flail helplessly about until they’re rescued by Mrs. Ayileka, who at least is thinking of the children.

…The National Human Rights Commission has, however, frowned at the way and manner sex hawkers and other women are being arrested in Abuja…and…pleaded with the minister to…“repudiate this pattern of official misconduct and bring it to an end promptly.”

You have just read the one entirely sane passage in this entire disaster, but it doesn’t last long; Makinde wraps up the spectacle by referring to sex workers as “women of easy virtue”, apparently with a straight face.  That’s more than I can say for myself; it’s been a long time since I’ve laughed so hard at something which was clearly intended to be serious.

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