Prostitution: A Necessary Evil
I keep asking myself, what is it that makes prostitution the oldest profession in the world right after farming; I mean there has to be a driving force for this occupation. For the sake of this article, I focus on prostitution that does not conflate with social evils like child prostitution and human trafficking. I have noticed that when the debate regarding prostitution comes up, we tend to merge all three but fail to realize that when these issues are not separated, “we risk silencing one narrative over the other to prove a point
Earlier in the week, I posted the question regarding whether Prostitution should be regarded from the moral angle or survival angle, as expected the replies varied. Some believed it’s a thing of survival as long as it’s not forced, some believed our body is the temple of the Lord hence regardless of going into it for survival, you must understand your body should be preserved, and one replied “it’s a workforce thing”
I believe there are no right or wrong answers to that question, it all depends on how you view sex, and your view will consequently influence your position on the issue. If you have been socialized to see the human body as “temple of the Lord” “Pure” and something that should be cherished, you will be inclined to view prostitution as a thing of morals. Also your understanding of sex, some view it as an ordinary act, animalistic trait and a human need while some see it as something sacred and should be precious and done with someone special.
Some see it as immoral because they believe women do not freely decide to become prostitutes, they are driven to the profession by desperation and lack of other opportunities, either out of greed as an easier way to get money instead of “proper work”. On the other hand, another set of people are conflicted, because they understand that one gets into prostitution for survival, but can’t shake off that immoral feeling they get. For them, it is just a trade of sex for money / economic support which seems too raw and primitive.
For years, I had viewed prostitution as the selling of your body, which I later got to realize isn’t exactly accurate. Thinking back, I now understand why I had associated selling sex with the selling of one’s body. Regardless of the fact I understood prostitution was a thing of survival and as a public health specialist I am indeed trained to think that way, I had been socialized from birth to see sex as something precious, and something intertwined with how we value our bodies. So having sex with someone who isn’t your rightful partner or worse for financial needs, you have sold your body. My subconscious mind which attributes to over 70% had digested this information and made it that everything I say and do fit a consistent pattern with my self- concept. I began to project my views on these sex workers, hence if I had had consensual sex with someone for financial gain; I would have believed I had sold my body.
This is why the term “sex work” is preferred to prostitution, as the term prostitute has a derogatory undertone according to the United Nation and most especially the sex workers themselves. They believe the term prostitutes have been shamed and often linked to women whereas, sex workers covers all forms of sex work and comprises all genders. My article will use the word prostitutes interchangeably with sex work; please bear in mind there are no derogatory undertones. It is just the term most understood by people in this part of my world.
Before I begin to answer the question “Is Prostitution a necessary evil in our society’ I need to explain the various kind of sex work exchange we have. Sex work researcher Johanna Buza has identified three main forms- sex work, transactional sex and survival sex.
- Sex work- A financial arrangement where the sex worker is paid an agreed fee by the client for sexual services
- Transactional Sex- This is also a financial arrangement within other relationships often characterised by friendship, affection or romantic attachment. This is the most common form of sex exchange in our society. This is the umbrella “runs girls” “sugar daddy/mummy” “blessers” fall into.
- Survival Sex- This is sex done to alleviate extreme poverty and done by people who need to acquire basic need. This is exactly what is happening at the IDPs refugee camps.
*Text in italics is mine.
The pursuit of sexual satisfaction can never be superseded.
This fact is the core reason prostitution has and will always be needed in our society. Before we go any further, many are thinking prostitutes “person we dey stand for road abi wetin” No! We are speaking off all sex workers (escorts, runs, sex workers in brothels/streets, strippers, porn stars etc.)
Human Sexuality is a fundamental human need, and people have a biologically driven need for sex although for some it’s high and low in others. For people who wish to satisfy their sexual desires and have no partner who can satisfy these needs or have additional stimulation that needs to be fulfilled but can’t be met by their partners, prostitutes come in and close that gap.
Some argue that they are happier because of the availability of sex workers, especially if they are in a happy relationship where all their sexual needs can’t be met due to various reasons (lack of sexual compatibility, illness etc.) The relationship with sex workers enables them to be able to fulfil those key areas while allowing them to maintain the primary relationship in their Lives.
As we are aware, some people believe in practising monogamy while some do not. Hence they opt for prostitutes as they discourage emotional attachments and overly personal relationships, which weigh less on a marriage as opposed to an affair. It is also very important to clarify that some go to sex workers so they can do things with them that they believe “real” men/women will normally not put up with.
When one can’t get sex from home; they pay for it.
I read recently of a man who was incredibly lonely and just needed someone to tell him she liked him, just needed some form of intimacy and went to an escort service online to request for one of the girls. There are sex workers who offer an illusion of companionship, warmth and even friendship; we call that the “girlfriend experience”. In our part of the world, this service might not be found online; in fact, one cannot understand why they will call up a sex worker for warmth and companionship. That is because, our society has more transactional sex, hence that girl/guy you see once in two weeks to “cool off” and just “chill” with no nagging or stress from the real world Is giving you the “girlfriend experience” for a price obviously.
In as much as I am against the idea of deflowering yourself with a sex worker, it does happen. Some men go to them to have sex for the first time for various reasons. Some have abstained from sex for a while and when they do decide to get back, they feel more comfortable in a controlled environment, while some simply want to learn something new or get better without endangering their relationship.
There have also been debates on if the availability of prostitutes has led to the decrease of rape/ sexual assaults. Many of us have learnt that rape is about power and humiliation and honestly if prostitution reduces rape, why are prostitutes getting raped daily? On the other side, I have heard way too many times “Why I go rape babe when olosho plenty” Do we ignore this side?? That the availability of sex, whenever one wants to satisfy their sexual urges for a price, has made the thought of taking sex by force repulsive. A society experiences severe problems when those with high sex drive do not have the access to sex/porn. The Late Indian Novelist and Journalist Khushwant Singh once said “The more we try to put down prostitution, the higher the incidence of crime against women”
I am not writing this with the intention of influencing anyone to either become a sex worker or to view prostitution which comes with various occupational hazards as a legitimate source of income, rather my aim is to call you to understand that sex work isn’t going anywhere and instead of focusing on eradicating what can’t be eradicated we need to find ways to manage it and minimize the harm that’s associated with it.
 Florida Uzoaru – @MzUzoaru comment on prostitution as a workforce issue.
 Naidoo, N 2009. Report on the 1st African Sex worker Conference: Building Solidarity And Strengthening Alliances.