Exposure to job-related violence among young female prostitutes (Nigeria)

In Nigeria, many young girls are engaged in commercial prostitution as a means of livelihood and support of dependent relatives. Although studies have documented some of the violence related issues among commercial prostitutes, the plight of adolescent and young prostitutes particularly in urban slums may be different in context and depth. This study explored the experiences of violence and health related harm among vulnerable young female prostitutes in urban slums in Ibadan and Lagos, Southwest Nigeria. It also analysed their coping strategies and survival mechanisms. Young female prostitutes aged 15–24 years who reported having experienced violence were recruited for the study. Twelve participants completed the interviews out of the 20 initially contacted. The study was conducted in brothels of two selected slum areas in Ibadan and Lagos, Southwest Nigeria. The results showed that the major motivation for engaging in commercial sex work was for economic reasons. However, there are inherent risks involved particularly for the vulnerable young people. Stigmatization from the community, clients’ uncontrolled-aggressive behaviour and harassment from law enforcement agents are some of the frequent violence experiences reported. Self-help coping strategies are usually employed to prevent or mitigate the challenges. The plight of these young people requires policy and program attention towards alternative economic empowerment to rehabilitate those willing to leave the profession. Also the need to develop arm reduction interventions towards protection of young prostitutes against violence.