Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, it’s as old as time, but it still gets a bad rep. In all honesty, that is not going to change. As a world, we’re some way off the perception of sex as an offspring of morals.
That is why even the people fighting that, ‘Ashawo na work,’ are reluctant to say that they would be fine should their child want to pursue a career in prostitution, in porn or in any kind of sex work in the future. We’re victims of the values we grew on. No matter how much we try to outrun them, we can only shed them pragmatically.
We have high standards of faux ‘morality' in Nigeria. This is a product of religion that Nigeria is supposedly founded upon and which Nigerians hold each other to.
As a result of this, most Nigerians simply cannot process how sex work is a legitimate hustle, regardless of the reasons those prostitutes landed in that space – Comedian, Okon Lagos belongs to that class of people.
He is a typical Nigerian. While a fraction of young Nigerians still have some – unresolved – reservations towards sex work, they at least admit that sex workers have rights and that such rights can definitely be trampled upon, even in the course selling sex.
The average Nigerian instead covers his insensitivity by claiming the illegality of prostitution as support for his reservations against sex work, when the morality that birthed him is the reason he cannot see beyond his arguments.
At times, this morality maroons as hypocrisy. During election season, Nigerians who claim to hate prostitution find ways to get themselves endorsed by the ‘Association of Nigerian prostitutes.’
With all the back and forth concerning this issue, we must understand that Nigerian prostitutes have rights.
Yesterday, off the back of the alleged harassment and rape of certain prostitutes in Abuja, Nigeria, which caused both an uproar and protests, Okon Lagos got on his Instagram and intimated that prostitutes cannot be raped because they have no dignity - again, alluding to the morality of sex like an average Nigerian.
He claimed that the rape of prostitutes was “stealing” and not rape because prostitutes have no dignity.
He got incredible backlash from Nigerian social media users and got dragged by scalp like a Nazi in 1943.
So, earlier today like a broken record and speaking in 'pure English,' the comedian then posted a video to supposedly clarify his position. In this video, he tried to bamboozle us with claims that rape was the same thing as stealing. Whereas, in yesterday’s video, he explicitly said that prostitutes could not be raped.
He then captioned the video with the following, “It's terrible when we give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Who justifies rape? Obviously not me. I think lots of people have problems with hearing and comprehension. Listen well again to the video I made. I never defended the animals that raped the girls.
"I only tried to open up another perspective to the crime they committed and that is robbery which attracts in most cases, instant death penalty by jungle justice while also condemning commercial sex hawking! Hear, Listen, Understand or shut up!!!”
He was defiant and even showed the exterior of a person incensed. We don't buy the fake anger and outrage, the content of his second video is laughable.
While legally, you can argue whatever you want, you will still be wrong. Rape is the simple absence of consent. If you contracted a woman for sex on the condition of money, and in the middle, she tells you to stop for whatever reasons and you say no, it is rape.
Equally, if she consented to have sex with you on the condition of money and you don’t pay her after you were done having sex with her, you have flouted the condition and it can be rape. While this cannot fly in a country where prostitution is outlawed, it is a reasonable argument for those who want to get it.
Even worse, if you have not contracted a sex worker, and you then proceed into her abode to force yourself on her, the fact that you believed her a sex worker won’t avail you even if you paid her afterward. You forced yourself on her, even sex workers in any country consent to sex before they can have sex with you.
Prostitutes can slap you if you touch them without their consent. It’s their body and touching without consent is a simple trespass.
On Okon’s rebuttal video
Sadly, he had a point. But also sadly, the narratives in both videos are different.
In the first video, he basically said prostitutes had no dignity and therefore cannot be raped. In the second video, he tried to fool us by saying that rape is the same thing as stealing because peculiar to both issues is a lack of consent – he is right, but there is a disconnect.
In the first video, if he had joked like, ‘The policemen who allegedly raped the prostitutes should also be charged for stealing,’ and got backlash for it, his second video would have made a little – not total – sense.
The major problem with him comes is how he alludes that prostitutes have no dignity and therefore cannot be raped.
His joke was crass and insensitive. His rebuttal is simply scatterbrained and equally stupid.
What is then the solution?
There is no solution other than to respect the consent of people in matters of sex.
The conversation now is not about the legality of morality of sex work, it is about a respect for human dignity in matters of rape.
Without consent, whoever you have sex with, you have raped, even if the person walks naked before you and hawks sex with a megaphone.
While we continue to struggle with the legality and morality of sex work, the only thing that matters is the respect for people's bodies and prerogative for sex. Being a prostitute is not an automatic consent for sex.
The culture of entitlement has to stop.