Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.
The subject of today’s What She Said is a 23-year-old woman who loves working as a prostitute. She talks about wanting to be a nurse when she was younger, the challenges of her current job, and her dream of teaching mathematics.
Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here.
What’s an early memory of your childhood?
In primary school, we had one of those career days where you’d dress up as what you wanted to be when you grew older. I wanted to be a nurse. I remember wearing my white gown and carrying a thermometer around to check people’s temperatures.
I liked the idea of taking care of people, and at that point, that was all I wanted out of my life. To have a job where I’d spend the whole day caring for someone else.
So, did you study nursing?
I didn’t. As I got older, the idea of caring for people still appealed to me, but nursing seemed so stressful and hard. Also, after I heard all the years they were going to spend in university, I wasn’t interested anymore.
My secondary school had a tutoring program where they’d pair one really smart student with a student who was struggling, to see if the grades of those students would improve. I was really good at mathematics, so I tutored three students. By the end of the term, their grades improved, and I realised teaching was something I wanted to do.
I studied mathematics education in university and I’m working on getting my master’s by next year. After that, a PhD. Right now, I’m just working so I can save up enough money for all the things I have to do.
Glad you found what you loved. How’s the saving money part going?
Well, it’s going great. The goal is about fifty thousand dollars in savings before I leave for school. Also, to invest and earn some passive income.
I currently don’t have a job that makes me a fixed income, but I want to believe I’m doing okay. When I initially decided I wanted to be a sex worker, it was rough for a couple of months, but it’s been two years and life has finally balanced enough for me to say I can save fifty thousand dollars in a year and some months.
How did you decide you wanted to be a sex worker?
It was in 2019 and I was at a restaurant when someone propositioned me. He sent a waiter with a card that asked me how much it would cost for him to take me to his hotel. At first, I was shocked. Other than randomly being called a prostitute by men and women who were trying to insult me, nobody had actually offered to pay me to have sex with them. I was also curious to see if he was serious. I was working at a bank at the time, and the money coming in wasn’t great, so I decided to play along with it. I told him to pay me 125k because I thought he wouldn’t, but he agreed.
I want to believe that the combination of being drunk, broke and curious led me to do it the first time. Looking back, I should have been more careful because I didn’t tell my friends what I went to do or who I went to do it with. I just followed a stranger to a strange place.
How did that go?
It was average sex and he gave me the money in cash. When I was getting ready to leave in the morning, he gave me an extra 20k and his card and told me to keep in touch. At the time, I was still trying to wrap my head around what just happened. I got home, had a nap and woke up to almost 150k in cash beside me. I knew I would call him back. I just didn’t know when.
I called my best friend and explained the entire thing to her. After she scolded me for my recklessness, she helped me come up with a plan. We decided I would need to invest in my appearance, and that’s how the money that man gave me became capital for maintaining the business that is my body.
Was he the only one you slept with?
Of course not. As he and I saw more often, he took me along to parties with his friends and I met more people. They’d give me their numbers and I just did what I did. They ranged from businessmen and businesswomen to politicians and their wives.
Not all the people were old. The youngest person I ever slept with for money was 35. We met at a sex club, and she was bored and wanted to try something new. Honestly, I would have done it for free, but money must be made.
How much would you say you’ve earned?
The money wasn’t a lot in the beginning. It was very dependent on how many people I slept with, and at that time, I actually had to have sex with people. I wasn’t just an escort or some fine girl they were trying to impress. It was an average amount of 350 thousand naira a month. Way more than I earned in the bank job I quit after my first month as a sex worker, and even more than anything I would have earned at any job I was doing at the time.
As I expanded my circle and paid more to take care of myself, the price went up. Now, sometimes I’m paid in dollars or pounds, and I can make millions of naira in a month.
It’s hard work constantly being beautiful, but it’s honest work. I don’t have sex with as many people anymore, so most of my money comes from people trying to impress me like young guys I meet at the gyms, clubs, restaurants, etc.
Do your family members know?
No, and I intend to keep it that way for now. The thing with being a sex worker is constantly having to explain your means of income. To my parents and brother, I’m an entrepreneur. Most sex workers have other jobs they use to mask what they actually do. We live in a very weird society and I’m not ready for the onslaught that’ll happen once they find out the money I’ve been giving them to spend is sex money.
I do plan on telling them eventually, but maybe after I’ve done my master’s.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
There are so many hard parts, it’s unbelievable. One thing that stresses me out is always having to worry about your appearance. In this industry, you need to always look good. Even if you’re just going to pick up garri from the market, you need to put in effort.
Also, sicknesses. I’m very careful when it comes to sex. I encourage my regulars to get tested regularly, and so do I. I also always use a condom and visit my gynaecologist as often as possible. I have an IUD, so I’m covered on the pregnancy front, although I did get pregnant once but miscarried it.
I can’t tell people what I do. There’s also harassment. People just feel like since you do what you do, they’re free to constantly harass you and try to touch you without your consent. It’s crazy and absolutely disgusting.
Lastly, dealing with people’s spouses. There is almost always one partner threatening me with some form of violence or the other. All I do is provide a service, I’m not trying to marry them or anything. Will you shout at me if I was a dry cleaner?
How long do you see yourself doing this?
For as long as I can. I’m aware that being a prostitute is not a sustainable idea. I’d no longer be as young or as flexible as I am now and would earn less and no longer be as sought after, so I’m going to milk it for as long as I can.
I love my job, but I also have bigger plans. Teaching is my passion. I just want to be in a classroom and change people’s lives. I also enjoy studying mathematics.
Do you have any regrets?
That maybe I should have charged that man more on my first night. I’m happy and able to travel to a lot of countries by myself, whenever I want. I can afford way more than the basic necessities, and I have more free time than I know what to do with.
I’m great, and life is treating me fantastic.
Are there any misconceptions about your job you’d like to clear?
Firstly, not everyone hates their job as a sex worker. I love being a prostitute. Also, a lot of people hate their jobs and also only do it because they need to survive. Why then is prostitution a problem?
Secondly, I am not selling my body. I’m selling a service and that service is sex. My body is not for sale in any way.
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