Iguomu Ogochukwu: Widening The Travails Of The Deprived Woman; A Response To Sugabelly On Legalizing Prostitution In Nigeria

I recently read on Ynaija.com, an informative online magazine, the opinion piece by one Sugabelly on the need to legalize prostitution in Nigeria, a view which was necessitated by Amnesty International’s recent attempt at lobbying for a legalization of prostitution in the country. Being a fellow woman like Sugabelly, I would not pretend I am unaware of the various societal ills staring haplessly at us in the face. But all hope is not lost, has never been lost. Sugabelly, however, in playing to the times appears to be one of those bountiful individuals in Nigeria who l’d go to any length for fame. Everywhere from Twitter to Facebook they abound. With the harsh economic situation in the country, many people abide that probably would not blink their conscience when they speak or act. First thing, the way and manner Sugabelly put forward her argument would make one think that if her admonitions were not strictly adhered to, then doom and danger lurks around the corner for the country. Very good. Alas, Sugabelly dismantled the very impressive argument she put forward by declaring categorically at the end of her essay, “Make them pay!” Make who pay? Maybe Sugabelly isn’t aware, the principle of an eye-for-eye is that which would make the whole world blind. Perhaps, that would amount to an calculated error on her part, but if it was intentional, then Sugabelly from the ambiguous nature of that statement might have rendered her whole effort a nullity.

In life, we do know that the more one gets and gets things, the less valuable such thing would subsequently become to him/her. This is simply expressed in economics as ‘The Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns.’ Now, come to think of it, men (in the context which she meant her whole essay, if I am not mistaken,) should be made to pay for the sex they receive from women. What then happens where the men have to pay for every sexual access to the woman’s vagina? What possible worth would they attach to such transaction in the long run? Maybe Sugabelly could help us answer that in a subsequent joinder.

The path Sugabelly has decided to lay her argument is what is faulty, but nobody can doubt the genuineness and sincerity of her intent. One cannot but see that the end of all she is trying to say is sexual liberty and emancipation for the womenfolk. But for choosing to go through the extreme route of legalizing prostitution is what has made her argument totally flawed. If, for instance, as she claims, men must be made to pay for the sex they receive from we women, I wonder who’d be bothered about getting married, anyways. And if indeed we should do away with marriage, then why bother trying to get a male sperm or a female egg for artificial insemination; why bother about parental surrogacy at all? Sugabelly made a loose statement in her declaration.

Over the years in Nigeria, the issue of sex and sexuality has come to be such a very sensitive and controversial topic that people are always inclined to be at loggerheads once the word sex is mentioned. Maybe, it is as a result of our time-immemorial conservative nature in this country, when we consider it as wrong some folks trying to encroach upon us a foreign and unwanted mode of viewing sexuality just because they happen to see and watch foreigners engaging in abnormal sexual behaviour. Sugabelly though made the greatest of misfires when she claimed that in legalizing prostitution, women would be able to minimize the enormous risks they run in their social and sexual interactions. Nay, women stand the risk of being infected with countless and unmentionable number of sexually transmitted diseases.

But sadly, Sugabelly did not even say or intend to say minimize, in the real meaning of the word. Rather, to her it is the monetary end of prostituting that is even more important. It is the monetary value women get as a result of prostitution that should be the main focus and target of legalizing prostitution. What a pity!

Indeed, just because prostitution has been recorded even in Biblical times doesn’t in any slight instance make it right. That is what Sugabelly has failed to appreciate. If Sugabelly had been a Christian, I would had graciously recommended 1 Corinthians 3:16 to her, but from a glimpse of her online profile and her purported atheist propulsion, such Bible passage would do no good to her or to our argument. And for the fact that a few perverted men decide to further the cause of prostitution by patronizing prostitutes confers no form of rightness on prostitution. The average man who visits a brothel only goes there on the necessity of fulfilling his sexual urge. He’s only going to pay for a vagina. To such man, the prostitute he’s meeting holds no importance than a mere rag to him. Use her and clean off the libido, that’s all. She has no further use. What am I even saying, Tamar, a recorded ancestress of Jesus Christ in the Bible, narrowly escaped being lynched to death on account of her purported prostitution. Again, Rahab, another ancestress of the Savior, repented from her prostitution in order to be saved. If as Sugabelly claims prostitution has been established in that time, then the attendant wrong notion that individuals in that time had of it was even more prevalent as it could result to death of the person engaged in prostitution. What then had stripped prostitution of its wrongness today?

Like Sugabelly said, the use of religion to counter the propagation of prostitution has no place in a modern world. But her further stance that morality should also be jettisoned is what I don’t agree with. If we are to do away with that singular guide to our every actions, morals, life can only be like the noted Hobbesian state of nature — short, nasty and brutish. Our morality determines our rationality. I am obliged to think that one with a truthful and moral conscience would not wish another pain nor suffering. But that is what Sugabelly has clearly done to women in her essay. For example, if prostitution gets the nod of legitimacy, undoubtedly, sexual promiscuity becomes rampant and inconsequential. And as such, the prostitutes would inevitably be at the receiving end of the negatives associated with sexual promiscuity. He is a liar the one who would claim he is not aware that public morality is one of the determinants in making laws by parliament.

Sexual intercourse has its place of value and meaning within the marriage arena. For all generations, there has been a continual wrong placement of the gift of sexual intercourse in the Divine and human economy and situation. The situation even appears worse with intercourse through varied forms of sexual immoralities and sexual perversion.

Sexual promiscuity, for sure, has a very negative impact on the individual, and society at large. Fornication, lust or whatever form it chooses to assume has a very excruciating end and it leads to long years of agony, woes and regrets. Perhaps, it is the consequences of sexual promiscuity that have made it the agent of death. It is a fact that sexual promiscuity gives one gratification and sometimes, immediate pleasure. But, however, worthy of note is that such person’s physical health is gravely endangered. That is the simple case with prostitutes who engage in sex with multiple customers.

Sugabelly failed to note the very important fact that women are more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. The cervix of a teenage girl, research has consistently shown, has a fragile lining which produces mucus. Only as the girl approaches menopause is this tender lining replaced with a tougher and more resistant lining. Mucus is a very good host of bacterial infections. During the first two years of menstruation, 50% of the periods occur without ovulation. This will produce more liquid mucus, which also grows bacteria and viruses very well. Therefore, a 20-year old prostitute has a one-in-eight chance of developing pelvic inflammatory disease simply by having sex with one man. Not to think of having sex with not one, two or three, but multiple partners! The fact of sexually transmitted diseases are alarming since more people are sexually active today than ever before. An entire generation remains at risk and the saddest part is that most people are unaware of the grave dangers they face. And prostitutes being mostly uneducated in a formal way stand the greatest risk of contracting STD’s. Sexually transmitted diseases are spreading to unprecedented and epidemic proportions. Sugabelly need only visit a local clinic or even a nearby chemist shop to verify this fact.

Incidentally, many people are already carriers of STD’s, and many more do not care about them and some others do not take their possibility seriously. One such deadly STD is the dreaded HIV/AIDS. The HIV is the causative agent of AIDS and it has no known cure today. From ages past, in our different customs and usages, we’ve developed some certain stigma to things considered bad and unwholesome in our communities. And indeed such things were really bad in their entirety. In Igboland, for example, songs were created which ridiculed persons that have done one societal taboo or the other. If Sugabelly, for she claims she practices traditional religion, came from any particular community in Nigeria, I am sure she would have known or heard about such accepted and tested practices. Sugabelly believed that legalizing prostitution would make for easy access to healthcare and certain numerous benefits for prostitutes. What she has failed to appreciate is that the social stigma that goes with prostitution is enough to nullify whatever purported legal benefit a prostitute receives.

Indeed, in her own thinking, prostitutes will enjoy the blessing of legitimacy with the insistence on the use of condoms. How very sad! Maybe I should briefly educate Sugabelly on the necessity that introduced condoms into society. The primary aim of condom was to prevent unwanted pregnancies (that is if any is unwanted, by the way.) This accounts for how condom was designed. Condoms in their nature have tiny intrinsic holes called voids. These voids aid the condom to be stretched and thus make it possible to be worn on the penis. This way the semen released during sex is trapped and may not swim pass these holes. But condoms have repeatedly failed to prevent the geometric rise of patients daily infected with HIV/AIDS. Condoms can never assure of even 50% protection against HIV/AIDS given the fact that they have tiny intrinsic holes through which the AIDS virus passes. The AIDS virus being 50 times smaller than these tiny holes. Moreso, paradoxically, the manufacturers of condoms don’t have the slightest assurance of their success in preventing HIV transmission, hence their constant insistence that abstinence remains the best and reliable way to stay free from sexually transmitted diseases — so, why place faith in what has been produced with some degree of impunity?

One would have thought that Sugabelly being a woman can appreciate the fraught and frightening risks involved with uncontrollable sex. The more one indulges in sexual promiscuity, the weaker one becomes. As this happens, premature aging sets in. Statistics of available prostitutes are there to substantiate this position. Also, prostitutes are open to all sorts of dangers. This Sugabelly appreciates, but legitimizing their mode of employment is never the way to help them nor protect them. One should be advocating for increase in business incentives, increase in access to formal education, increase in social amenities, increase in job creation, rather than advocating for legitimizing prostitution.

Alternatively, one could be seriously advocating for an end of such barbaric practices that make women susceptible to the wicked whims of the men; one could even go a step further to advocate that laws which should protect women in the domestic place and work place should be passed, not laws that will make women more prone and porous to whatever attack the menfolk dish out.

However, none can disclaim the fact that we are living in a unfair world of inequality (unequal economic power, unequal marital power, unequal political power, and, even, unequal sexual power); a world where the horse and ass are yoked, with the sad obvious result that the horse is always on the verge of annihilating the ass. Hence, Sugabelly, like I earlier said, had a noble intent and a kind disposition towards the down trodden in society — women, the metaphorical asses in this scenario. Women at least need to take charge of one area of their lives, and that should be none other than the one which personally touches their existence: their sexual power. They should be allowed to decide whom to give their bodies. I duly share in that sentiments.  But, truth be told, you don’t help a less privileged individual by compounding his woes.

Finally, prostitution is what has . Prostitution encourages sexual promiscuity. Sexual promiscuity remains the surest and possible manner through which the human body becomes infested with diseases and disease causing organisms. These diseases constitute great danger to physical health and often lead to its destruction, as most of them are incurable.

I am Iguomu Ogochukwu Ogo.

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

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