New Telegraph

Sex worker: From ‘dirty deal to real deal’

No sane mind would wish to be known for wrongdoing or to become an epitome of anti-social orientation. Vicissitudes of life have a way of messing up one’s virtue, dream and purpose. It takes providence to get it right where there’s no helper or counsellor. Society is not kind to the unlucky folks.

They are derided as weak, lacking in wisdom, flippant and given to frivolity, whereas those seen as bad examples of social maladies may not have chosen the path for themselves willingly. Sex work (prostitution) is an immoral trade. It is a transaction in which women offer themselves to male patrons for sexual pleasure in exchange for money.

It is practised as a fulltime business by commercial sex workers. The reasons and factors that lure women into the illicit trade vary. The informal sex workers are those who are not doing sex as a trade but they operate in their private environment.

Such women do keep romantic dates for financial gains and to get connections in high places. This category of women are in the majority. January 2019, a pretty middle-aged woman met a guy that found her suitable as a potential wife.

Thus, the relationship started. Shortly after, they did the formal introduction while the wedding proper took place in three months after on a low key celebration. In no time, she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy last year.

Her dedication and love for family life became the envy of her neighbours. It was observed that she didn’t have a coterie of friends. Knowing that having many friends would cause distraction, she built casual friendship with a few neighbours.

“Women gossip a lot, and I don’t want problems at all. So, I stay on my lane to be at peace and enjoy my marriage,” she said. During the recent lockdown, she called to discuss a particular story she read on social media with me.

She said the travails of the woman in the story was similar to hers. I asked how: “I was once a sex worker!” she responded, adding, “Someday, I will tell you my story and how I found myself in commercial sex work.”

I know a man who married a former commercial sex worker and the marriage is peaceful and fruitful. Nobody in the neighbourhood or even among his family members knows about the woman’s background.

As at today, they are doing well. The man’s wife participated in an empowerment event where she met an old friend. After exchanging pleasantries, the friend asked her, “How did you make it?” And she replied: “I decisively transmuted the dirty deal to a real deal.” The two of them were into the same business of commercial sex work some years ago, but they are now dutiful wives, loving mothers and businesswomen. She narrated to her friend how her life was transformed: “I had a regular patron who treated me specially. Whenever he came around, I may not be available for other clients again for the night except those who had come earlier before him. He didn’t like to rush.

He would give me money to buy drinks, suya or pepper soup for the two of us. We will talk about his business, politics and sports especially football. Incidentally both of us are fans of the same English premiership club side. There were times he won’t have sex, still, he will pay me handsomely. At some point, I began to develop affection for him. I started seeing him as my lover. He showed interest in my background and how I came into sex work.

“After I narrated my journey of life and how I found myself in commercial sex work as a means to fending for myself, he looked pale, showed compassion, drew me to himself and promised to be there for me. Right there, I made up my mind to quit the trade if he asked me to do so. He rarely discussed his family life with me but I knew he’s married.

“Barely a month later, he proposed to establish me in a business if I agree to quit the trade and he would get an accommodation elsewhere for me. That’s how one thing led to another and today I’m here as his wife. I didn’t know he was a single dad when he started patronising me back then.

I think our paths crossed because we are destined to be together.” Sexually exposed women are said to be better home keepers. “They offer more satisfying sex perhaps due to their vast experience in the act,” a brothel patron stated in an online conversation. Having tasted a sour grapes of life in the illicit trade, they are able to appreciate the quality juice of marriage where love, security, provision and dignity are assured.

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