The Covid-19 pandemic was first discovered and reported in Nigeria in February 2020. It caused a lot of set back to the economic development of the country, as well as in other parts of the world, leading to the cancellation of events, flights, and virtually all activities that required public social gatherings.
When it became more severe and dangerous, federal government ordered a total lockdown over a period of two weeks which later extended to many months. As result of the lockdown many businesses both in the public and private sectors such as, governmental agencies and learning institutes as well as churches, schools, banks, cinemas stadiums, places of relaxations, entertainment and hotels were all closed. Many employers could no longer generate income to pay their employees as many were retrenched or given pay cut to quit their jobs.
Whilst many businesses and organisations suffered and struggled to survive during the pandemic, sex workers in Nigeria came up with ideas manage the situation with an aim to upgrade their service provision, through a digital platform known as the OLOSHO app. The app is designed to help sex workers avoid police arrest and reduce the effect of corona virus on their business.
The Olosho app is available on Google’s Play Store; a user can download and register with an email. The user can then upload pictures and mobile number, and then the user would then be required to choose the state of residence after which the user can start chatting on the platform. The user can also upgrade to become a premium user; N500 for a month, N1,500 for three months, N2,500 for six months, and N5,000 for lifetime access.
According to Similarweb, a website that analyses the performance of applications using an algorithm, the Olosho app is rated number four in Nigeria, as October 1, 2020.
Below are some of the revelations and reactions of how some of the sex workers who used the ‘Olosho’ app managed, during the pandemic.
– Bella, whom her friends refer to as Cessa, spoke on the advantages of the app on their trade saying “I enjoyed this corona period, it has helped increase my price, before I charged N6,000 for Till Day Break (TDB), but now through this app, I now charge N15,000 for TDB and N10,000 for short rest which is for an hour,” She continued saying “I stay in Gwarinpa and I’m currently not available now for short rest, but for TDB, and we (will) have sex at least thrice and my charge is N20,000.”
– Nancy, a 23 years old resident of Kubwa, said, “if you want us to do short time, it (is) for N6,000 and we (will) have sex twice.” Nancy continued “If you want us to do TDB, it’s N10,000 and we have sex twice. The first round will be when I cum and the second round will be early in the morning before I leave, and it has to be a doggy style. I don’t do missionary, I’m scared of contracting the corona virus.” Doggy style is when one partner is positioned behind the other and penetrates from behind using either a toy, penis, or finger.
– Genieve, who is known as Eve on the app, is a 300 level student of sociology at the University of Abuja. said “While I was in my second semester of 100 level, I was introduced to this business by a neighbour in my area in Kubwa.I don’t like standing by the roadside, rather I do a referral and most times the deal is done when price is agreed upon…“They (customers) will price us N6,000 for the night and N3,000 for a short time, which I do at times when I don’t have lectures in school.” She continued, “Most of the time, when I am observing my menstrual cycle and I need money, I will demand N2,000 to give them a hand job or blow job…“When federal government asked all schools and hotels to shut down because of the virus in March, I was introduced to the app in May and my friend told me the price has increased, because it is now a home service…”I registered on the app and I paid to become a premium member; being a premium member gives you access to only verified users,” she explained
Eve continued, “In June, I got a minimum of three customers for a short time and at least one for till daybreak, daily…”For me, I don’t want the government to ask hotels and brothels to open yet, because they will spoil our market.”
-Jane, another sex worker that resides in the Ikoyi area of Lagos, said that “two rounds of sex for short time is N5,000 and she will spend three hours. If you want to do short time, it’s N5,000, aside my transport fare, and we can only have sex twice. But if you want more sex, like four rounds and above, you have to pay N10,000.. But if you want till daybreak, I will use tramadol and you will pay N15,000, aside transport, and that is unlimited sex till morning.” She continued, “If you want us to have raw sex, you will pay triple of the price either for short rest or till daybreak.”
Tinu, who resides in Wuse Zone 4, Abuja, has a similar price list. “Till daybreak is N20,000 with just two rounds of sex, but if you want more than two rounds, it’s N40,000,”
However it is important to state that prostitution in Nigeria is not legally approved but the Nigerian law remains vague on its existence. It is illegal in a northern region of the country that practices the Islamic penal code. While in the southern activities of underage prostitution by pimps or madams who operates or own brothels are penalised under sections 223, 224, and 225 of the Nigerian Criminal Code.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese