The National Coordinator, Nigeria Sex Workers Association, Amaka Enemo, says sex workers in the country have been forced to suspend activities, especially in Lagos and Abuja due to the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although sex workers offer “essential services” they will remain indoors because their services involve “substantial bodily contact”.
She said the association had been able to sensitise its members to the dangers of COVID-19.
The national coordinator said, “There is sensitisation across the country including within our network. Sex workers also offer essential services. However, there is no way sex workers can do their work without body contact. So, they are staying at home to watch what happens.
“The government has announced a lockdown and as law-abiding citizens, we will not flout the law. If the government says sit at home, we will all obey because nobody wants to die.
“We fall under essential services but ours is peculiar because of the nature of body contact. You cannot compare it to doctors because the doctors are not making full body contact with people the way we do.”
When asked whether only ‘street operations’ had been suspended and if private home services could continue, Enemo said the decision of the association was that “all activities be put on hold”.
The national coordinator said, “The lockdown affects street workers and those at home equally. For the sake of their health, they should all stay at home and avoid bodily contact. So, we stay at home but we are sharing materials that will keep them safe.”
When asked to evaluate the financial impact of the lockdown on sex workers, Enemo said it was the same effect artisans were facing.
She, however, said it was better to protect one’s health.
Enemo added, “Of course it is going to affect them financially but sex workers are not the only ones that make money on a daily basis. It is the same for commercial drivers. Of course, they might have their savings but that does not mean it will not affect them. It is affecting everybody so sex workers are not exempted.”
The national coordinator said her association would accept donations from the government or private sector as this would reduce the impact of the lockdown on members.