All the relevant stakeholders must join hands to contain the scandal

The biggest revelation from the immigrant crisis facing our country today with many of our stranded nationals being brought back home from Libya is that prostitution is a big industry in Nigeria. But it is not only outside the shores that these women and girls ply their trade, they do it virtually everywhere in our country: at street corners; behind residential homes; inside their school hostels, in front of highbrow hotels, bars, shops, restaurants and other public places.

The questions are: How did we get to this sorry state? How come that every evening, especially on weekends, young girls who ought to be in their respective parents’ homes or at school are parading the major streets of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Ibadan and other cities hawking their half-naked bodies to any willing buyer? Why has sex become the fad among many students of our institutions of higher learning? Where lies the future of these young ladies and what can the society do to protect their dignity?

The worrisome aspect is organised sex-trafficking, even within the country. These days, a lot of young girls are being trafficked from one state of the federation to the other just for sex. A recent research carried out by Sympathy Worldwide Foundation, a non-governmental organisation fighting sex slavery and child trafficking, revealed that several young girls were being trafficked from the hinterland to Lagos. But as the promises of their do-gooders become no more than a mirage, the girls take to the streets to use the same means to help themselves.

Outside Nigeria, the situation is even more lamentable. The various reports indicate that the largest group of prostitutes from sub-Saharan Africa is from Nigeria. According to a recent United States Department of State report, majority of the minors engaged in full time prostitution in most countries in Europe are either from Albania or Nigeria. There are rough estimates that four out of every prostitute seen on any Italian street are Nigerians. Something definitely has to be done about this unsavoury situation that destroys not only our image as a nation but the future of many of our citizens.

Apart from Italy, Nigerian prostitutes have successfully invaded Spain, Germany, Belgium, Austria, United Kingdom, Norway, Netherlands and other countries. Majority of these prostitutes are recruited through the human trafficking industry. Most of the victims of this trafficking are unsuspecting young girls who are enticed with promises of good jobs only to be coerced into prostitution once they are ferried abroad. But to the extent that it is a racket involving criminal cartels, it is important for all relevant stakeholders to work together in combating the challenge.

We therefore call on government at all levels, anti-prostitution NGOs, parents, churches, mosques, the police and all relevant stakeholders to take concrete steps in curbing the menace of prostitution. The relevant authorities should also intensify their spirited campaigns against prostitution.

Meanwhile, since poverty and unemployment are the major causes of prostitution, government, at all levels, should stop paying lip service to the challenge of unemployment which has forced many into the illicit trade in Nigeria. Finally, the family institution needs to be re-invigorated. If parents were at home performing their parental responsibilities, their daughters would probably not have taken to the streets in shameless prostitution.

Nigeria possesses an enviable rich cultural and religious heritage which includes living a chaste life and respect for the body and soul. That is why all should join hands in tackling the menace of prostitution in our country.