ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS: Mad dogs and sex workers

  • Tue, 31 Aug 2010 21:19:00 -0600 - 234Next
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Our meteorologists and climatologists must be busy revising school geography textbooks. Based on present weather evidence, an ‘August break’, a mini-dry season in the midst of the wet period, no longer exists. It’s currently raining cats and dogs, with local flights regularly skidding off runways when not cancelled. Passengers now carry prayer books in their hand luggage. The alternative? Travel by road and risk death at a police checkpoint. This August has also produced three curious tabloid reports. A man was allegedly shot by security guards in Abuja for stealing firewood. Ordinary firewood? But did ecologists not predict conflicts around dwindling resources, such as water and forests?

I was not surprised at the second story. A boy lost his life in Lagos after being mauled by a dog. The poor kid died, not from his wounds, but as a result of rabies. In the colonial days, Town Council trucks periodically went round to pick up and kill stray dogs. Mad dogs roam our cities, and have enjoyed undisturbed independence since 1960. The health authorities appear to be ignorant of dangers posed by rabies. For lessons to be learnt in Nigeria, lives must be lost.

The final story is of the Sisyphean task embarked upon by the idle authorities in Abuja - the war against prostitution. No nation has yet won that titanic battle. If the law of the land forbids a profession, then the law must be enforced. However, legislation impinging on moral, ethical and religious issues is difficult to enforce.

In history, there have been hundreds of years of self-deceit and hypocrisy over prostitution. Kings and presidents are still occasionally caught with their pants down. So, who exactly is a whore? Take the case of rampant corporate prostitution in Nigerian banks. These organizations offer attractive career prospects, and then pressurize female marketing staff into “meeting targets.” In the process, the blackmailed young women end up meeting lots of randy men, to the delight of the bank bosses. Why men are never hired in these departments is anybody’s guess. “Sex sells,” said the world’s No.1 female tennis player, Serena Williams, when asked about fashion and sports.

Lawmakers in our country are the guiltiest in encouraging what they legislate against. Ask any university graduate where she’d like to serve as a Youth Corp member, and the answer is Abuja. And where in Abuja? The National Assembly. There’s money there.

Gender discrimination

A state governor banquets by sending a fleet of buses to female hostels in the nearby university and to the NYSC camp. Objective? To gather up girls, never the boys! Just to eat, drink and dance? They are, of course, not prostitutes; but no law stops them from collecting money in the morning if amorous services are rendered.

If the FCT minister sends out task forces to round-up mad dogs and sex workers, we will have less incidence of rabies, no doubt; but prostitution will remain. That age-old profession is driven by rich men. The Abuja authorities must be very sure that the rights of citizens to movement and lawful assembly are not abused during their raids. Besides, there is stark gender discrimination in restricting the movement of women where men can go anywhere and anytime.

Prostitution thrives in the richest nations as well, and is therefore not just a symptom of poverty, as many believe. Jobs and quality education will only ameliorate the situation. Countries like Nigeria with a high percentage of unstable and large families; decayed institutions and a copycat culture, easily destroy those pillars of morality that discourage women from selling their bodies for sex.

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