Nkechi Onyele & Marcus Nkire
A red light area is not only a place where prostitution is carried out or men go to buy sex; it is also a place where generations live and where children are born and raised. Children of women in prostitution who live in red light areas grow up in an environment that is extremely vulnerable and they face great stigma. Besides, children raised in these areas, especially girls, are vulnerable to sexual abuse.
The foregoing notwithstanding, there has been an invasion of some residential areas in Abuja, by commercial sex workers, who live in the midst of families because of the acute challenge posed by housing in the nation’s capital. The situation has left many families with no option than finding shelter in suburb and communities; not minding the presence of ladies of easy virtues in the neighborhood.
Investigations have shown that such aberration has made family life difficult; especially for parents rearing children in such environment where crime, fight, quarrel, indecent dressing, large consumption of alcohol and drugs are the order of the day.
Woman Boku, a notorious red light area in Kubwa village, FCT’s largest satellite town is a clear example. Woman Boku, derived from Pidgin English simply means that women are readily available. Though development has drastically reduced the sex trade in the place, but the small community located close to Kubwa Market is distinguished by hotels and relaxation centers that dot the place.
Jaji Street, original name for the area, is wholly residential though hotel businesses have combined to jerk up rents. A visit to the place revealed that about six of the surviving brothels are still within the neighbourhood, which also serve as residential area for people with their families, as well as shop owners who run their businesses.
Daily Sun also visited the Zone 4 area of Darkwo in Lokogoma District and Ajegungle, Mpape, where sex hawkers co-habit with families to find out how people, especially parents cope with living in the midst of prostitutes. At Darkwo, Joy Joseph expressed displeasure over the lifestyle of the girls claiming that their style have grave implications on their children:
“As a mother of one, I feel disturbed but I don’t have any solution to the problem, because it is their life and they are also tenants like me. Honestly, the kind of life these girls live is a shame to womanhood. They wear indecent clothes exposing their bodies to everyone in display of what they represent.
“You can see for yourself some of them are sleeping in their rooms, while in the night they go out for their businesses. Sometimes, they deprive us of our peace by fighting and quarreling either among themselves or even with their neighbours. Painfully, our children are seeing all that is happening here and it is not good for their upbringing.
“I want government to do something about prostitution; possibly let them stop them from cohabiting with people, they should live in a secluded environment instead of living among responsible individuals for the safety of our children.”
Another respondent, a beer dealer, who gave his name as Mr. Friday called on government for solution to avoid further crime and public disturbance: “Truly, prostitutes are not supposed to live where families reside especially children; because they are abusing the character of these children.
“Though, I am a bachelor and I do not hope to bring my children to my shop here in Zone 4 because of these girls, but the way they smoke Indian hemp and cigarettes in public even affect us the adults. Do I talk about their fighting and abusive lifestyle? I think government should do something about it.”
Another resident, Bridget Nwosu, gave reasons a section of Darkwo is called Zone 4 and her desire to vacate the environment: “This place is known as Zone 4 simply because of prostitutes who reside here. It is named after the popular Zone 4 red light district in Wuse. I can tell say that the population of prostitutes here is higher than other individuals. Honestly, I am tired of the environment and will soon relocate.”
The story was not different at the Ajegunle section of Mpape, where Jude, a vulcanizer lives: “Sometimes, police would come around and pursue them but after sometime they would flood the area again, they are really spoiling this area for us. There was a time they had a quarrel because one of them stole her roommate’s money, most of them came out and fought fiercely. The commotion was unbearable until the police intervened.”
Mary Inyang, a mother of five living in Mpape lamented about having to raise children in the “dirty” environment, even though she claimed to be very watchful of them: “It is not easy raising my children here, but all my children are grown, the last is 12 years old. So, they know better than to associate themselves with these girls because I trained them well.
“When my two daughters in the university come back home I don’t even let them stay out so late. By 8’Oclock, I start calling them wherever they are to come home, because apart from the prostitutes in this place, Abuja in general is not safe.”