How the Internet Changed the Face of Prostitution in Nigeria

 Since the year 2008 when social media usage started gaining prominence in Nigeria – the acclaimed giant of Africa, friendly interactions have been boosted among different people from diverse locations, colour, gender, race and other notable extractions.

The internet has created a hotspot for Nigerians to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and mostly kick-start romantic relationships with a wide range of people as against the old practice of accosting people at events and other public gatherings for the same purpose. This has also given adequate oxygen to internet-based s*x work.

According to research, the internet has become one of the most preferred methods of communication as potential clients and prostitutes discreetly reach agreements online and set meeting points. Commercial s*x workers across the world have tapped into the provisions of the internet to create a better contact point between them and their customers.

On the global scene, a first-ever study of the U.S. s*x industry shows that many prostitutes prefer to make transactions over the internet now, where rates are higher and they are less vulnerable to arrest or assault according to a 2014 report on NBC news.

The study found the underground s*x economy in the eight cities brought in nearly $1 billion per year.

The five-year study focused on eight cities namely; Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington and was based on interviews with prostitutes and pimps in all venues including massage parlours, brothels and escort services. It did not include the p*rnographic movie industry which is legal.

Electronic Commerce (e-commerce) which involves buying and selling online has come to stay in Nigeria with the strength of the internet today. The mode of operation is simple; all you need to is to purchase a Smartphone that could guarantee you clear pictures and then subscribe to the internet to connect with the world.

“Flirting online could be fun. It gives you access to a wide range of ladies. You check out their profiles, browse through their different pictures and send your desired one a message. Who knows, you might be lucky to get a favourable response from her. I can’t imagine myself wooing ladies on the streets. I could get embarrassed for that” a Nigerian youth based in Lagos State, the financial hub of Nigeria said.

Nigerians are not only transacting deals on goods like we have e-commerce sites - Jumia, Konga, Payporte, Yudala and others but also services just like it happens in other places in the world.

Practitioners of the oldest profession in the world - prostitution have found it convenient to relate with the outside world through their social media accounts. The fact that Nigeria has over 91 million netizens has created a fertile market for s*x business.

The Nigerian 'pleasure market' is not as organized and audacious as we have in the developed societies where we have escort companies, p*rnstars, professional pimps and others attached to the prostitutes despite the seeming illegality in some countries.

A study by the reporter showed that the Nigerian market could be safely divided into two groups namely; the traditional or full time prostitutes and the alternative prostitutes or freelancers according to his tentative descriptions arrived at in the course of observations and interactions.

Members of the traditional group are the conventional s*x workers you find in brothels, beer parlours, popular junctions in scantily-clad clothes openly trading their services without restraints and mind-boggling boldness. The alternative group could safely be explained as the average next-door neighbour trying to make extra bucks with her body. This could be very clandestine to save the image of the person involved. The business suffers from acute stigmatization on religious and moral grounds but the market is disturbingly large and in high demand.

Monica, a 25-year old lady from Anambra, South-eastern part of Nigeria based in Lagos is living her dreams from the black market where she comfortably makes money simply “enjoying herself”. All she needs to do is to update her Instagram account with alluring photographs of her luscious body parts on display, add a catchy hashtag and the messages will keep rolling in. The light-skinned lady of average height has been touring countries. She has been to Ghana and Dubai. She plans to visit more countries with proceeds from her work.

The motivation behind this trade by promising and educated Nigerian ladies remains elusive as it’s an area they will never want to address.

“They are so business-minded. They just want to deliver their services and leave the house of their clients after being paid. They hardly talk about their personal lives” a source in the know revealed.

 A fraud investigator in a top multinational firm in Lagos, Daniel Stephens (not real name) who buys s*x online believes the ladies have no excuse for doing such jobs since they are not handicapped. He believes they are driven by greed and laziness.

“They are no excuses for selling your body but life is all about making choices. No matter how hard life gets, one could engage in artisanal jobs or enrol in teaching or sales jobs pending on when things get better. With my experience, I think most of the ladies naturally enjoy having s*x and drinking heavily. It’s some sort of lifestyle for them” Stephens concluded.

Popular social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Eskimi, Naijapals, Mobofree, Badoo and other small mediums have created an ease in doing business across the length and breadth of the country.

Focus of late has been shifted to Instagram where a lady can expose her b*obs, hips, flat tummy and bum to amass thousands of followers more than prominent celebrities. As the pages skyrockets in terms of followership rate, increased interaction is witnessed in her private box known as Direct Message (DM). Pleasure services in this regard are delivered at cut-throat prices due to the corporate nature of the platform of negotiation. This has proved to be highly lucrative with light-skinned ladies taking the centre stage of attraction.

As,,, Cdate and other communities that enhanced ‘one night stands’ brought Americans and Europeans together for s*x in the early 2000s, internet users in Nigeria wished there could be local platforms of that nature in the country as Hi5 struggled.
The growth of Instagram has finally answered the obnoxious prayers of such fellows as a smaller community linked with it and identified as ‘Insta Messenger’ has become the hottest spot for online prostitutes.

The application which is found on Google Play on Android phones as well as iPhones or other smart devices is designed to connect you with individuals within your locality and other close by areas within your state. Although, the mobile application wasn’t purposely designed as for casual relationships with the opposite s*x, young Nigerian ladies with a myriad of successes of business transactions have invited friends to also open accounts and meet men for the delivery of pleasure services.

Users of this online community are not totally commercial s*x workers but 80% of them are into the discreet trade. The deal is codenamed ‘Hook-Up’ according to the information gathered from some male members who spoke under the condition of anonymity.
Some female members on Insta Messenger boldly indicate on their profiles that they want only s*x for money and nothing more. Some list their intoxicating s*xual offers supported by their massive breasts and backsides on display as veiled in see-through clothes.

According to reports gathered, you can either have the ladies on a part time note regarded as ‘Short Time or Short Rest’ or “Overnight”. The Short Time schedule is cheaper. It mostly involves a round or two of s*x depending on the amount of money involved and expertise in negotiations. This could cost N4,000 and above depending on the taste of the girl involved.

The Overnight package involves she sleeping over at your place during which you are entitled to at least three rounds of s*x before 6am in the morning. This costs about N7,000 and above depending on who is involved. If she is based in the highbrow Island area of Lagos, you might fork out about N20,000 to N30,000 for the session because ladies from that axis have better access to wealthy men.

A sales representative, Hassan Ahmed (not real name) who has transacted business on the online community in the cities of Ibadan and Lagos believes the platform is addictive and unbelievable.

“The mobile application makes s*x too easy I must confess. I have used it in two major cities in Nigeria at different times and the female members have been very responsive. They are just normal ladies in serious relationships with some guys not aware of their secret hustle. I am addicted to the platform. I have deleted the application more than 20 times but I always download again when I am horny” he concluded with laughter.

Aside the ‘freelancers’, random interviews conducted on the mainland axis of Lagos State revealed some mainstream prostitutes who reside in brothels on a full time note are also using Insta Messenger. Most of them are based in Festac Town, Ikeja and some in the Ago Palace Way ares of the economic epicentre of Nigeria. They will direct you to their ‘hotels’ as they call it from the platform. Married men prefer this group of pleasure workers due to issues of venue.

The economic crisis in Nigeria has aggravated moral decadence in Nigeria as young ladies between the ages of 18-30 as seen on Insta Messenger easily raising money from promiscuous men to settle common needs.

Unlike other developed countries in the Global North, Nigeria has no concrete quantitative research conducted on the online prostitution business among her youths. It appears that this is a topic a lot of people shy away from despite being aware of its pronounced existence.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on Phone number: +2347053302356.
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