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Abuja Police Raid: How Law Enforcement Exploits and Abuses Sex Workers

Even in the wake of several scandals which recently trailed the Nigerian Police Force, we seem not to have heard the last of human rights abuse as there were reported cases of raids on Abuja night clubs and alleged rape of the women arrested. Men of the Nigerian Police Force and other law enforcement units, perhaps in a bid to hypocritically sanitize the streets of Abuja ahead of the coming Ramadan season, went out of their way to arrest both sex workers and non sex workers, a group of women numbering up to 70, from pubs, clubs and stores on 28th April. These men in uniform did not stop there; they were reported to have gone ahead to molest, rape, torture and abuse some of these women while they were in their custody under the sanction of the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) and the Minister of the F.C.T, Mohammed Bello.

While it is a fact that prostitution is a crime in Nigeria, there is no gainsaying the fact that the Nigerian Police sees carrying arms as a means to not only terrorize citizens, but also to molest them. These men of the force have thus discovered a favourite pastime to swing by night clubs and red light districts, exploiting, extorting and/or arresting whatever women they could lay their hands upon – whether they are really sex workers or not.

It is a no-brainer that if there was no demand for prostitution, these vulnerable women will most likely not provide a supply of sex in exchange for money. In fact, the fear of being arrested or being shamed unduly which many ladies of the night face now no longer linger in night clubs or line the streets of known hotspots – they instead make use of dating or sex soliciting apps such as Tinder, Okcupid and so on.

The case against prostitution may still be somewhat strong at the moment, considering the fact that Nigeria’s so-called secular laws which enables security forces to abuse offenders are largely Sharia-leaning. As a multi-religious nation which classifies itself as secular, there should be a drive to rid our penal code of all elements leaning towards a particular religion. Practices such as prostitution does not infringe on the right of another individual. Even ancient customary laws have no stringent measures for prostitution as what is currently available.

While this expose does not provide a supporting argument for prostitution, it points out the fact that the abuse meted out by the police against women caught in the act, as well as those innocent of the act, is grievous and a sacrilege on the sanctity of the law itself. There is no excuse tenable whatsoever for these women to be subjected to such manner of humiliation irrespective of their crimes and the wrath of the law must be visited on the perpetrators.

While there can never be enough excuse to choose a career path largely frowned upon by the society, the reality that a higher percentage of women who are into prostitution or those alternatively named Runs Girls do so in order to make ends meet, remains an indictment on the inadequacy of worthy work opportunities which should be catalyzed by the government. Rather than actively looking for ways to penalize these women who were found guilty of flouting prostitution laws, the government and every individual who feels concerned enough about the scourge of poverty should actively seek ways to prevent individuals considering prostitution as an option by making jobs available to them.

It is not beautiful to watch on while particular classes of people whom privilege or chance has placed in positions of power or authority now continue to abuse same power in the name of law enforcement. This trend must stop and Nigerian citizens should speak out against it while actively seeking ways to rescue those who are ready to abandon their career in sex work.

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Macaddy Gad

Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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