The Legality Of Prostitution In Nigeria.
By Bright Ogunmodede, Oyekule James (For Remedial Legal Institute)
Prostitution is the attitude of engaging or getting involved in indiscriminate sexual activity, in general with someone who is not a spouse in exchange for immediate payment in money or any other valuable. Prostitutes may be female, male or transgender and prostitution now entails homosexual or heterosexual activity .But historically, prostitutes have been the females while the males are the clients. Prostitution is seen as the provision of sexual favours for financial reward or could also be seen as sexual intercourse characterized by barter, promiscuity and emotional indifference. Prostitution is said to be the world oldest profession. It can then be said that for prostitution to take place, there must be an exchange at a cost value, making prostitution an economic activity. However, prostitution is not limited to one sex alone but for ages, the females have been on the active side of providing the services with the males being the patrons or consumers.
Moreover, It is a complex and universal phenomenon,. The issue of prostitution as a social problem in Nigeria is a difficult one. Prostitution exists with us and since we live with it whether as parties in the act, agent of such act or onlookers, we cannot afford to shy away from this phenomenon much as we try to, prostitution is extremely wide spread though the question of prostitution is a difficult and thorny subject that has received little attention in Nigeria. Our reluctance to come with the harm widespread of mass prostitution does to the entire society is highly hypocritical and comes with a lot of associated cost. Economic hardships such as vicious cycle of poverty have increased the population of women in crimes labelled among which is prostitution.
Women involvement in prostitution though can be linked to poverty but not limited to it, also most of the money realized from prostitution is often spent on the maintenance and sustenance of family, education and so on. Most women and children are not willing to work as a prostitute but it is a choice based purely on economics of food, clothes and other advantages. Sex providers are as diverse as sex itself. Most are females, some are males; most are heterosexual, many are lesbian or gay. Some see prostitution as undesired but have no choice because of their economic conditions, others have chosen it freely and see no ambiguity in it, sex trafficking is defined by the European Union as the transportation of women with the goal of sexual exploitation with or without their consent. In 2010 hearing, it was held in the House of Representatives about the bill for an Act to prohibit corporate prostitution and exploitation of women and for other matters connected therewith. Prostitution can be classified into four different forms: These are institutional, freelance, corporate and international prostitution respectively. These are briefly explained below:
This is mostly practised in the hotels, brothels and bars where prostitutes have rented rooms where services are being delivered to their patrons.
This is a single sex operator, they often stay at their individual homes and go out when there is a request for their services. This is mostly practiced by students in the tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
This occurs when ladies are compelled into sleeping with their bosses to get promoted or even to keep their jobs, or when female workers must sleep with clients to achieve their targets, this happens silently in the corporate world.
The last one involves cross bordering prostitution which involves smuggling and human trafficking to foreign countries. Nigeria has an unenvied reputation in this kind of prostitution, many Nigerian ladies have been smuggled to places like Italy, Lebanon, Oman and most Asian countries and many others with the sole purpose of selling them into prostitution.
PROSTITUTION IN NIGERIA
Prostitution is illegal in all northern states that practise Islamic Penal Code. In southern Nigeria, the activities of pimps or madams, or underage prostitution and the operation or ownership of brothels are penalized under section 223, 224 and 225 of the Nigerian Criminal Code.
“Any person who procures a girl or woman who is under the age of eighteen years to have unlawful carnal connection with any other person or persons either in Nigeria, elsewhere or procures a woman or girl to become a common prostitute either in Nigeria, elsewhere or procures a woman or girl to leave Nigeria with intent that she may become an inmate of a brothel elsewhere procures a woman or girl to leave her usual place of abode in Nigeria, intent that she may, for the purposes of prostitution, become an inmate of a brothel either in Nigeria or elsewhere, is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years. A person cannot be convicted of any of the offences defined in this section of this Code upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness. The offender may be arrested without warrant Nigeria or elsewhere, is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years. A person cannot be convicted of any of the offences defined in this section of this Code upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness. The offender may be arrested without warrant
Procuring defilement of woman by threats or fraud, or administering drugs”
“Any person who by threats or intimidation of any kind procures a woman or girl, to have unlawful carnal connection with a man either in Nigeria or elsewhere or by any false pretence procures a woman or girl to have unlawful carnal connection with a man either in Nigeria or elsewhere or administers to a woman or girl, or causes a woman or girl, to take, any drug or other thing with intent to overpower her in order to enable any man, whether a particular man or not, to have unlawful carnal knowledge of her, is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years. A person cannot be convicted of any of the offences defined m this section upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness.”
“Abduction of girl under eighteen with intent to have carnal knowledge”
“Any person who, with intent that an unmarried girl under the age of eighteen years may be unlawfully carnally known by any man, whether a particular man or not, takes her or causes her to be taken out of the custody or protection of her father or mother, or other person having the lawful care or charge of her, and against the will of such father or mother or other person, is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years. It is a defence to a charge of any of the offences defined in this section of this Code to prove that the accused person believed, on reasonable grounds, that the girl was of or above the age of eighteen years.”
Even though Nigeria law does not legalize commercial sex work, it is vague if such work is performed by an independent individual who operates on his or her own accord without the use of pimps or a brothel. The Nigeria criminal system prohibits national and transnational trafficking of women for commercial sex or forced labour, Nigeria is a signatory to the 2000 United Nations Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons especially women and children, perceptions of prostitution are based on culturally determined values that differ between societies. In some societies, prostitutes have been viewed as a member of a recognized profession; in others, they have been shunned, reviled and punished by stoning, imprisonment and death. Few societies have exercised the same severity towards clients indeed, in many societies clients suffer few of any legal repercussions.
A different form of prostitution known as corporate prostitution, a relatively new phenomenon and mostly limited to financial institutions began to gain notability in the 2000s. In 2004, bankers union threatened to go on strike due to allegations that some female staff sleep with men for accounts. Though most financial institutions do not force women to engage in sexual activities in order to meet financial targets, it is implied that many banks are not against such actions. In 2010 hearing, it was held in the House of Representatives about the bill for an Act to prohibit corporate prostitution and exploitation of women and for other matters connected therewith. The legality of prostitution in Nigeria is enforced majorly in the Northern states with the aid of the penal code especially in kano with the aid of the Hisbah corp, hisbah are supposed to draw attention to transgressions. They enjoin people to do good or preach to prevent them from doing bad. In Sharia, there is room for advice before you get to the courts.” In practice, however, the hisbah have often abused this role and acted as a law enforcement agency they enforce Islamic laws which prohibits prostitution. But in the southern Nigeria through the use of the criminal code it does not legalize prostitution but prohibits brothels, human trafficking, underage marriage among others. It is believed that in Nigeria prostitution is not legalized, therefore prostitution is an offence in Nigeria, and it punishment should be strict and act as deterent to younger generations.
The legality of prostitution in Nigeria has been on the rise since the inception of the 21st century, it’s of no usefulness to legalize prostitution in Nigeria irrespective of its legalization in foreign countries such as the United States of America. It should be noted that not all states in the USA have legalized prostitution but states such as Nevada has done that. The legalization of prostitution in Nigeria is an offence to the divine law , laws ordained by God. It is not a breaking news that prostitution is an offence in all northern states through the use of the penal code most especially in kano state through the use of hisbah corps, though they are not a legalized force but nevertheless the hisbah corps have been on the advantageous side to prevent prostitution in the Northern states because prostitution is a menace to public health. In the light of the penal code and hisbah corps in the Northern states and kano state respectively, it is believed that sexually transmitted diseases: HIV, AIDS will be reduced.
More so, the criminal code operating in the southern Nigeria does not prohibit prostitution directly but indirectly; the criminal code operating in the southern Nigeria only prohibits factors that can enhance or promote prostitution such as procuration, Procuring defilement of woman by threats or fraud, or administering drugs and Abduction of girl under eighteen with intent to have carnal knowledge. All these are factors that promote prostitution. It is of great remorse that prostitution operates in southern Nigeria successfully but nevertheless we look up to our governments, legislatures to emulate the Northern states in making and reforming our current criminal code that operates in southern Nigeria.
This work is published under the free legal awareness project of Sabi Law Foundation (www.SabiLaw.org) funded by the law firm of Bezaleel Chambers International (www.BezaleelChambers.com). The writer was not paid or charged any publishing fee. You too can support the legal awareness projects and programs of Sabi Law Foundation by donating to us. Donate here and get our unique appreciation certificate or memento.
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