At 3 a.m. in the red light district of Lagos, dozens of young Nigerian girls in scantily clad clothing solicit cars driving slowly through the dark streets. The driver of our car tells us these girls are there on their own accord, lazy, and looking to make a quick buck or strike the lottery by snagging a Western man that will marry them and free them of poverty.
Only blocks away, at a place called Pat’s, blares the latest hip-hop mixed in with old classics. All the women are black, and all the men are white. The average age of the white men is approximately 40 to 50, a mix of American, British, and other miscellaneous European backgrounds, no doubt here in Lagos on business with wives and children back home. The average age of the women is around 16-24, all dressed to kill with looks to match.
And here lies the hypocrisy of developed nations taking the moral high ground in denouncing human trafficking. Here are Western men preying on youth, and on poverty and desperation. Are these girls lazy? Perhaps, but they live in brothels that would only be sustainable if there was demand for their bodies. Where there is demand there will be a supply, and a healthy supply of humans for sale exists in Lagos, as it does in Italy, the rest of Europe, and the United States.
We can blame poverty and culture for the source of human trafficking, as families in Benin City, Nigeria sell their young daughters at ages 9 through 16 into prostitution in exchange for bigger homes and satellite dishes. We can also blame our culture in the moral proper West that views sex as taboo and secret, where fetishes of older men for young girls flourish in the dark corners of the street, brothels, and cars. Both the supply and demand side of trafficking must be addressed if this world wants to rid itself of modern day slavery in the third most lucrative black-market trade after small weapons and drugs.
Posted By Jessica Sewall (Nigeria)
Posted Jun 13th, 2006