Women, like Esther, become involved in prostitution for a variety of reasons such as homelessness, child sexual abuse, mental ill health, trauma, previous sexual violence, drug and alcohol misuse, money pressures and poverty.
On Friday last week I went on a home visit to Esther, one of our HIV positive clients. We have known her since May last year when she came for testing at a medical outreach we did in her village. She lives only about 20 minutes from our flat in Abuja, but her circumstances could not be more different. Her home is one room with bare plaster walls and a tin roof with no ceiling – you can imagine how hot it can get in there. She does have a fan, but electricity is irregular. Before she met ADVANCE Esther was supporting herself through sleeping with various men whom she could then call on for financial assistance whenever she needed something. During the outreach she not only learned that she had HIV, she also received Christ as her Saviour.
To help Esther leave her lifestyle behind, we gave her a small grant to start a hair-braiding salon business. On Friday she was a bit frustrated that the business is not thriving as she would wish, but she has made enough money to be able to bring her little girl Faith to live with her. This has changed her world, she tells me that she no longer has any men that she sleeps with. She still lives in a hot room with a mattress on the floor, and she still has HIV, but now she has hope in Jesus, and the joy of being part of the church as we stand with her in her time of need. A
Prostitution is not natural or inevitable; it is abuse and exploitation of women and girls that results from structural inequality between women and men on a world scale. -Donna M. Hughes, ‘Men Create the Demand: Women are the Supply’