My day at the hair salon - Face to Face with Prostitution.
My name is Chidinma and I reside in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria. I set off today for a new hairdo at one of the beauty salons near my house and experienced something which has totally changed my perspective on life.
I watched as young girls scantily dressed in broad daylight sauntered into the salon. What they wore should best be described as underwears, yet they seemed so perfectly at ease. They couldn't be more than 18 years old. I asked the hair stylist and she casually told me that they were all sex workers. I was shocked and told her that these teens can't be that. She laughed so hard at me and told me to please open my eyes.
It was then I decided to pay a little more attention. Some come in already drunk, while others have come to get a new look for the day's job. i was informed that they are charged N4500 per day at the brothel where they live and they will be thrown out if they don't meet up any day. A quick run is called a "shorttime" and could fetch as much as N4000 per stand while "overnight" is negotiable.
They also may have pimps which they service depending on how long they have been in business. I didn't understand how bad it was until one of the girls made a very expensive hairdo and when she was asked to pay told the hairstylist that they should give 30 minutes to go for a "shorttime" and then come back and pay. It was then I felt ashamed. I was ashamed firstly for being a woman, I was pained that she could see herself as an object and I had pity on her.
I also was angry with myself as I felt powerless and unable to help. I then asked the hairstylists if they at least counsel them. They told me that they have this big beauty parlour to make money and that they are not a counselling center.
They also mostly didn't feel any pity for these young women as they told me that it was their greed and laziness that led them to this easy way of life.
I sat all through and wondered about the lost joys of growing up which these young women will never know, the lost dreams, aspirations and everything I felt while growing up.
In my head, I blamed everyone, from government, their parents, the girls themselves and myself especially for the utter helplessness i felt while i saw all these.
And the men that patronise them? They are evil as far as I am concerned. Will you sleep with your baby daughter or teenage daughter or sister or niece? My head was ringing and I felt pity for womanhood. How come we are so trampled on?
At that point I understood why human slavery is still very much here. Its not just a programme on CNN. Its real, its close to me. Its happening all around us, we just close our eyes to it, drive our nice cars, live in our flats and watch it on our big, flat screen TVs.
It could be any of us, our sister, friend, cousin, niece, aunt or mother for that matter. I'm wondering, what can I do to help. how can I help these pretty girls? Do I go back and try to speak to them, will they listen to me? Will i accepted and not be seen as a too good lady who doesn't know what they are going through?
How are they protecting themselves from molesters, diseases and all the hazards of their job? I could go on and on.
My husband tells me its beyond greed or poverty. He says its a deeper spiritual issue after all that not all poor people have gone into prostitution. I do not entirely agree, some of those teens could be victims of circumstances beyond their control, it could be poverty, greed or whatever we call it.
Its wrong, its a sin against these teens and young women. We all need to lend our voices and speak up anyhow we can. My heart is heavy and bleeds for our future, our future mothers, wives, companions.
I join the fight against human slavery and prostitution.