While it is no longer news that prostitution is on the increase, teenage prostitution is a new phenomenon that is causing worry in the society. Teenagers of secondary school age seem to be competing with older women in a bid to sell their bodies to men. RUTH CHOJI writes about this growing societal malaise

Mary Istifanus (not her real name) 15 is a senior secondary school drop-out who has been sleeping with men for money. One might think she is in denial as she sees the act as one that is devoid of any personal gratification, saying, “I am not a prostitute, I just hustle to make ends meet. My father is dead and my mother who sells bean cake (Akara) can’t take care of us.’’

She explains how she got into prostitution. “My class mates introduced me to the trade. One day, they invited me to their restaurant after school where some customers gave us money. We were then invited to a particular hotel and since then, that was how I started sleeping with men for money. I was suspended from school for being rebellious and so I stopped attending”.

Another underage prostitute, 17-year-old Grace who opened up said she was brought to Abuja from her village in Nasarawa State to work for one Hajiya who sells food in Garki Model market. According to her, “Traders who we serve food to will dash us money and tell us to meet them in a hotel in the night. I have several boyfriends in the market; even the wheelbarrow boys you think are poor can give a girl as much as N2,000. This is how we make money and I send it home to my mother to help them out.”

Nobody can say what is pushing teenage girls to prostitution; most have blamed it largely on economic and social factors. Dr Adeyinka Adetokunbo, a Gynaecologist, observes that “teenage prostitution leads to negative effects on the totality of the child later on in life. Most of them have little access to healthcare and suffer extremely unhygienic conditions. It is also common knowledge that prostitution promotes the spread of HIV because most of their clients refuse to have protected sex with the girls, believing that it will bring them fresh blood.

This early sexual intercourse causes a lot of damage to children including: vaginal tearing, physical after-effects of torture, pain, infection, or unwanted pregnancy, depression, personality or sexual orientation confusion, problems with behaviour, insomnia and loss of self-confidence.

Child psychologist, Peter Ishaya stated that child prostitution is when underage teenagers start experimenting with sex before their 18th birthday. “The Jubilee Action report (1995) states that, up to 1 million female children join prostitution each year around the world. You can attribute the causes to poverty, unemployment, broken homes, and lack of education, drugs, pornography, and rebellion”. “Prostitution leaves young girls traumatised for years. They end up not trusting anybody and become lazy because they believe that they can make quick money by just sleeping with a man. It also affects the way they treat people because they sleep with men who are their parents’ age or older. Then they tend to stop respecting adults,” he added.

Pastor John Abiyomi of Gods Light and Truth Ministry said, “The Bible condemns prostitution under whatever guise. It doesn’t matter the age of the person, God frowns against it. It is written in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 that none of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.” He also quotes, “In Kings 14:24 ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Mallam Yahaya Abdul-Aziz, an Islamic cleric stated that, it is a sin in Islam for a teenager to engage in prostitution. “Islam does not approve of any sexual practices outside marriage. Islamic law includes very stiff punishments for prostitution; men that patronise these girls are not exempted from the punishment. Our religion does not encourage women to work in order to earn her living and if you notice, most of these girls become prostitutes because of poverty. Many prostitutes are first drawn into this horrid practice by poverty. Some of them use their money to help their families, but in Islam, we encourage community help. The rich are expected to cater for the poor and such girls are given out in marriage to reduce the burden on their families.”

Passnownow note: There can never be any justifiable reason for prostitution. To say you’re into prostitution because of poverty smacks off insincerity and laziness. In fact, using poverty as an excuse is simply trying to make up for your wrong doing. Remember, the most dangerous thing on earth is what seems safe at the onset, but turns out otherwise.  You don’t want to face the consequences of prostitution. So stay clear!