The struggle for COVID-19 survival is increasingly leading to child prostitution in New Karu, Ado, Masaka, and Aso communities of Nasarawa state.
At New Karu, Grace Iyadun, a 14 years old girl while speaking to the Media Advocacy West Africa Foundation (MAWA-Foundation), said she was forced into prostitution to raise money and feed her family, pointing out that hunger is killing members of her family.
Iyadun said her mother is a teacher in one of the private schools in New Karu, while she was sacked during the COVID-19 lockdown. She also claimed her father was sacked by Uber, a prominent taxi company during the lockdown.
Iyadun who spoke to MAWA Foundation in tears said she was encouraged to go into prostitution by her mother when it became obvious they will die of hunger if something is not done to save the situation.
She, however, said her mother did not openly ask her to go into prostitution but encouraged her to go after men and ask them for money.
In New Nyanya, Mr. Sunday, who is popularly known as Oga Sunny was caught having sex with an 11-year-old girl in exchange for money.
Mrs. Lucy, a witness, who prefers only her first name mentioned, told the MAWA Foundation team who visited New Nyanya community in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, to gauge the impact of Coronavirus on the people that the 11-year-old girl has had sex with Sunny severally in exchange for money to feed her family.
The 11-year-old girl confessed that Oga Sunny had sex with her three times in an uncompleted building and paid her N1000 for each time he mate with her.
She, however, added that apart from Oga Sunny having sex with her in an uncompleted building, he had on so many occasions slept with her in his house.
“Oga sunny had sex with me severally, and, gives me N1000 each time he takes me to his house or an uncompleted building”, the 11 years old girl said.
The girl was, however, caught by a local vigilante at around 12:30 am while coming back after having sex with Oga sunny.
While been interrogated and threatened by the local vigilante of taking her to the police, she confessed to having gone to have sex with Oga Sunny in exchange for money to feed her family because of the Coronavirus economic crisis.
She, however, disclosed that her mother asked her to start sleeping with Oga Sunny because he is rich and can give her money to take care of her family to survive the Coronavirus economic crisis.
As a result of the girl’s confession, Oga Sunny was arrested by the police, while the girl’s parents denied she ever had sex with him.
The 11-year-old girl confessed that her mother forced her to have sex with Oga Sunny and other men to raise money and support the family as the COVID-impact bites harder for them.
“I have indulged myself in having sexual intercourse with both old and young men together with some of my friends to support our family due to the COVID – 19 hardship”, she said.
At the Eddy Hotel Mararaba, three girls who gave their age as 13, 14, and 15, while speaking to the MAWA Foundation team at the drinking bar, narrated how they were forced to go into prostitution to raise money and carter for their needs.
One of the girls, who identified herself as Rose, told MAWA she became actively involved in prostitution during the COVID-19 lockdown. She added that as soon as she was sacked as a cleaner in one of the hotels located at the Wuse 11 area of Abuja, closed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) old office, she joined prostitution because she has no other alternative means of survival.
Three of the ladies who say they operate from Eddy Hotel accused the hotel management of exploiting them through high charges for using their rooms for what they call “short service”.
Although they refused to disclose how much the hotel charges them, they said the price is high while they pay it every day, and sometimes, they put the money together and pay weekly.
Miss Bridget Azuka, who lives in Masaka, explained to the MAWA team how under-aged prostitution has become common in her area and Ado community.
Azuka while speaking to MAWA officials in her hairdressing Salon, accused many parents of encouraging their under-aged girls to go into prostitution to raise money for survival, and according to her many of the girls parents lost their job to COVID-19
She told this organization that she knows some families who both husband and wife lost their jobs to COVID-19 and they are depending on their girls to go after men and bring money for food.
“In Masaka and Ado, I know about three families who lost their jobs and they now depend on their under-aged girls to sleep with men and bring money for feeding”, Azuka said.
“I know things are difficult since the COVID-19 outbreak, but there is no justification pushing girl child to trade sex for money for the family to feed” she added.
At the Kabayi area of Mararaba, a lady who identified herself as Ene and claims to come from the Otukpa community of Benue state told MAWA Foundation that she was sacked as a petrol attendant in one of the filling stations at Otukpo during the COVID-19 lockdown, and because she has no other option, she was forced to come to Abuja and be engaged as a sex worker.
Ene added that she has a 12-year-old boy who is in primary school, pointing out that she has to pay for the child’s school fees and take care of her mother, a situation she said forced her into being a sex worker.
She, however, disclosed that she is not the only one, adding that they are over 11 of them who moved from Otukpo to Abuja for sex worker because they have all lost their job to COVID-19, and the need for survival is what is pushing them into the act.
This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa OSIWA