Sex workers are clamoring for prostitution to be made legal in the country.
Since the beginning of time itself, women (and men) have been selling their bodies for cash.
Prostitution might be an old game but it is still illegal in many countries in the world. In Nigeria, the prostitution laws are vague. Sections 223, 224, and 225 of the Nigerian Criminal Code try to put pimps/madams, underage prostitution and the establishment of brothels in check. These laws mainly apply to Southern Nigeria which is regarded as the more liberal section of the country.
In the Northern part of the country, the firm grip of Sharia Law outlaws and forbids prostitution. In some Northern states like Kano prostitution still exists on shadowy, dark roads outside the state capital.
Even with the laws, prostitution is a thriving business in the most populous black nation in the world. There is no official data on the number of sex workers in Nigeria but there are other figures which tell a scary story.
There are 3.2 million people in Nigeria living with HIV according to a 2015 report by UNAIDS. The prevalence rate among people aged 15-49 is 3.1%.
One of the reasons for these high numbers is because of the HIV prevalence among sex workers. According to AVERT, in Nigeria "HIV prevalence among sex workers is eight times higher than the rest of the population."
Those who support the legalization of prostitution believe that when the trade becomes legal, the rate of HIV prevalence in the country would reduce.
Amaka Enemo is the National Coordinator of the Nigerian Sex Workers Association (NSWA) recently said that prostitution should be legalized.
Enemo wasn't readily available for comment when Pulse reached out to her for her thoughts on the topic. However, recently presented a report titled 'Understanding the High Risk of Urban Sexual Networks in Nigeria'.
At the event, Amaka Enemo said "When I visited Amsterdam (Holland), I was able to visit the red light district where sex workers work because prostitution is legal there. I have also visited New Zealand where they have decriminalized sex work.
"When you decriminalize it, there will be less exploitation of sex workers and the violence will reduce.
"We want the government to decriminalize the work so that all of us will be healthy. It might interest you to know that Nigeria has the second highest risk of HIV worldwide and we are hoping to get to zero before 2030."
She also said that the ban on prostitution has exposed many commercial sex workers to unprotected sex from police officers.
"Sex workers face violence, especially from their clients and law enforcement agents. Sex work is seen as a crime and the police raid streets and brothels to arrest sex workers.
"They collect money and if the girl cannot pay, she will have to give sex to the policemen. If the law enforcer does not want to use a condom, the sex worker has to agree and this is why HIV is on the increase.
"So, in this study, all the sex workers we interacted with said their biggest trouble was law enforcers" she revealed.
If you know the streets of Lagos very well you would know that this claim is true. The fact that prostitution has not been made legal has exposed sex workers to diseases. It has encouraged trafficking.
Legalizing the trade has its economic benefits. The government would be able to tax commercial sex workers and that would also serve as a source of revenue.
In 2011, the then Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu asked the Nigerian Senate to consider making prostitution legal. Nothing much came out of this.
As expected, the religious right was not in support of this. In the North, the legalization of prostitution would meet a brick wall. In the South, which is predominantly inhabited by Christians, there would be stiff opposition to a bill of this nature.
With all the benefits of making prostitution legal stated, do you think it should be made legal?