Lagos has remained the worst hit state since the infectious virus penetrated Nigeria. And regular callers at brothels are taking precautions by restraining their restless organs.
Some of the prostitutes said they no longer get enough patronage since the disease became pronounced in Lagos.
Caroline, a commercial sex worker at a brothel close to U-Turn in Abule-Egba area of Lagos, was quite optimistic that ‘business’ would boom again. She said the current business lull was for a period.
After a second bottle of beer was offered by this reporter, she was ready to share her burden with her harmless new friend.
“What we are seeing now is normal in life, just like people selling goods in the market,” she said. Sometimes you make huge profit; sometimes there will be no sales at all. I cannot question God. This is my second year here. There were days when men would be waiting at the door for the one in the room to be through so that they could come in and have their time.
“I won’t blame people that are afraid because everybody loves life. I am also being careful. I now select the customers that I accept into my room. But I have regular customers whom I know cannot deliberately harm me. It is God that will save all of us,” she prayed.
She said that two of her friends at the brothel, out of fear, have travelled to their villages in the Eastern part of the country, pending the time the pandemic would subside. But she argued that running away was not the solution, especially as no one was sure of who was already infected.
She added that so long as the virus was not only contracted through sex, no one could be totally safe.
Caroline lamented the incessant harassment of policemen even before the outbreak of Coronavirus. She said some young men who quietly came to the joint to have some bottles of beer were arrested on March 24, with the police claiming that there should be no social gathering. She said that people have been shying away from visiting the once lively spot for fear of being apprehended.
It was a similar story at The Groovy Bar in Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), where sex workers are also feeling the consequences of the Coronavirus spread.
At this place, business is at its lowest ebb. From the bar through the kitchen to the guest house, all the workers said that it was as if they were on holiday.
One of the sex workers there, Princess, said she had spent two days without patronage from any man. She jokingly told the manager of the joint to carry out some advertisements on the social media so that customers could start coming to have fun at the place. Her colleagues called her a frustrated comedian.
Holding a stick of cigarette in her left hand, the fair-complexioned lady said: “This Corona is very wicked. Look at me turning to a beggar in Lagos. This is an insult to my personality.”
The manager of the place, Edwin Rich, said the joint, in complying with the state government’s directive, had since closed down the open bar where people in their numbers usually gathered every night to drink, listen to music and have fun. He stated that the nightclub had also been shut till further notice. However, the rooms were still opened for lodging, he explained.
“As you heard from that lady who is hustling here, people will always complain in a situation like this. But I am in full support of decisions like these by the government. If the sickness could get to Aso Rock and affect Prince Charles in England, why would we not be careful,” he said.
If the restrictions would linger on for a longer time, Rich said some of the women would open shops and start running dignifying businesses, noting that prostitution was no longer lucrative for them.
A pharmacist in Lagos, Mr. Kenny Ohimai, whose shop is close to a hotel, said he had been receiving a lot of questions about health risks, from both commercial sex workers and their clients.
“Today, about three ladies from the hotel came to ask me of the common symptoms associated with Coronavirus. They are also asking different questions about health risks,” he said.
He stated that he had observed that people were really scared of contracting Convid-19, which explained why his sale of condoms has drastically dropped. He said before Coronavirus, he could sell up to 15 packs at a weekend, lamenting that he had been selling only one pack for some time now.
At another big hotel at Ekoro Road in the same vicinity, ladies at the place also complained of low patronage from the men.
A few buildings away is another guest house. At this old-looking storey building, there was some relative disquiet. Two young ladies were seen sleeping on different chairs in the open. The brothel was like a graveyard on March 25, contrary to its usual boisterous nature.
It was gathered that some of the sex workers only left their various brothels for a while, and promised to return after the disease had been curtailed. There were a few other ladies who didn’t leave their hotel rooms, but simply refused to transact business at the moment.
More findings by the reporter revealed that most of the owners of hot spots and brothels around some major streets within the metropolis have been lamenting the low patronage they are getting from clients who usually engage the services of the sex workers.
One of the popular spots visited – Beautiful Garden in Alimosho Local Government Area of the state, also recorded low patronage.
But two sex workers at one of the brothels in Meiran suburb said since the outbreak of the disease, nothing has really changed. They said people were still coming to have fun and patronise them after they must have got drunk.
When the reporter approached a man at one of the brothels visited, he said he only went there to have some cold drinks and relax. He preferred not to be mentioned.
He said: “I hope you are not a journalist? Anyway, I didn’t come here to do any bad thing. As you can see, there is no lady by my side and I don’t have any intention to patronise any of them. Once I finish my beer, I’m off.
“This is not the time for any crooked movement. I’m sure the rate of infidelity will drop sharply as long as the disease continues. Nigerians love their lives and nobody wants to die. Even if we have to endure for months, it is better. Thank God that I’m married.”