Pros-titution; it is the oldest profession in the world; from before Deliliah’s seductive ways with Samson in Bible times, to what happened last night in a dark corner at Ojuelegba bus stop in Lagos.
Women, selling their bodies for money; some pushed into this nefarious profession out of poverty, some, out of sheer greed and some others, simply for the love of s*x. In this piece, Vanguard explores the lives students in our tertiary institutions, who now appear more remarkable in their runs for men and money than their primary purpose of acquiring quality education.
In her confession, a female student in Lagos said:
“My first night was with a man who had just come from Malaysia and after a long night of s*x, he gave me N10,000. Though I was happy because, I was not used to getting that kind of money at once, I was angry because, the guy used me very rough in the night. He had so much energy and he never allowed me to sleep. He took me on more than five times and I was very weak.
”Runs’ and ‘Aristoism’ in the ivory towers:
This is not a sad tale from a Nollywood movie, it is true life story.
Things were tough for Elizabeth and her widowed mother. But sending Elizabeth to the university was top priority for her. Her mother would never have guessed that disastrous blend of harsh conditions, bad company and wrong choices would lead Elizabeth into prostitution. Her mother would not know that Elizabeth told our reporters her story from a brothel.
Her bad company came in the person of a friend she calls Stephanie. She said: “I met Stephanie during our Matriculation ceremony in the school, we were and still are in the same department. But we did not really become close until we met at the party where we got talking and exchanged contacts.
At first, I thought she was into lesbianism because of the way she was asking me about myself.
“Later she told me that, I did not deserve the kind of poor life style I was living in school and that I needed to upgrade myself. She introduced me to some friends who would call me when there was a party to attend. At one of the parties we attended, they introduced me to some ‘big’ men.
“At first I did not understand what was happening, until it was obvious that each girl had been paired up to have s*x with an old man. I was very reluctant about that and I angrily left the party. The next day in school, she was so angry with me and asked me why I behaved like that. After much convictions and persuasions, I succumbed to what she asked for… After that first night, she never turned back from the trade. “I became used to the whole thing, and I was collecting more than N5,000 per night. I had to give a cut to the person who brought me deals, and send some money back home.”
She says if she finds a better source of income, she will desist from runs. But this is her life for now.
Across citadels of learning, cases such as Elizabeth’s are very rampant.
Linda Okoye, an Aristo, at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism in Lagos attempted to give more insight into this. In an interview with Vanguard, she said: “There is no difference because they can both be classified as pros-titution. But what differs between the two is that Runs pay more than the normal pros-titution. From experience, I would say that runs are the advanced or high class pros-titution. Also, runs are a kind of contract profession while road side pros-titution is like daily s*x work whereby the person who does it is being paid based on the time she spends with her customer.
“For example, a normal pros-titute may collect N 2,000 for 15-20 minutes of s*x. But an Aristo can be on call for twenty-four hours.
Another thing about the normal pros-titute is that they can have s*x with their customers on the road sides like beside banks and filling stations but runs girls use the best hotels. They have class. They work based on contracts and people who normally patronize them are rich men like company executives, politicians, businessmen among others.
What these rich men do is to contact these girls through an agent. These agents are like normal students. If you go to any higher institution, you will always find them there because they are the ones that bring business to the girls in schools. Sometimes you can get N250,000 or more to spend in one or two weeks with a rich man. So Runs girls are like high class pros-titutes. You don’t see them around often. They only come around if you have a job for them.”
A 200-level student of University of Benin, Dorothy Akpenor (not real name) disclosed to Vanguard that her former roommate was involved in the runs business but she refused to join her friend. When asked what was it like living with such a student, she said: “I was very uncomfortable with it, and often would talk to her about giving it up. There was a time she came back and told me she was always emotionless during the actual inter-course and felt guilty when some Naira notes were given to her. But she felt better that she was able to meet her financial obligations especially about her studies.”
She stated further that she had advised her to stop the ‘runs’ but all to no avail. “I did ask her to stop. To me, her excuse was not tenable because I know her family was not that poor.”
She said that her friend returns with an average of N20,000 to N30,000. But that she would never resort to it, adding that if she was in need of money, she’d rather talk to her parents and family members instead of embarking on s*x work. Dorothy further said that some of these girls even do it with desperation, going as far as using charms on their unsuspecting male patrons in order to get huge amount of money from them. Poverty, desperation or plain greed?
The question of poverty may not be the absolute reason why many young female students take to this lifestyle but it surely contributes in some cases. However, findings show that it is usually more pronounced in girls who transit from living a normal school life, after a few Aristo runs, to living big and thereafter a struggle to maintaining the lifestyle to which they have become familiar. A posh naive female student with a taste for trendy clothes, shoes and designer handbags would be vulnerable to such act. She would go for the ‘less stress, more money runs’ with some randy executives for a night to maintain the lifestyle she chose for herself. Nike, a 300 level student at UNILAG corroborated the idea saying: “it is a lifestyle and not about poverty as people say. Why can’t they do something more dignifying than flirting around?Why is it that when they get some money that could set them up for a business they still don’t stop their trade? Why are they stuck in this immoral act? Some of them make so much money that you will agree that it has to do with morals otherwise they would quit if it was all about poverty.
You will see them buying and wearing expensive clothes, shoes and handbags. Is that poverty?” Nike queried. On her part, Queen as she is fondly called, told Vanguard that she is in the business simply for the love of money and s*x. She targets men who have just arrived the country from abroad because they “have more cash to splash.” She said: “I just love s*x; no condition pushed me into that. I love the money too, so I go for what I want.” Sadly, University of Lagos, UNILAG, Akoka, is also known to be the spot for campus pros-titution. Its closeness to places like Yaba, Surulere, ensures a constant flow of wealthy ‘customers’. Chidinma Akpan (not real name) a female student who spoke to Vanguard stays at the popular Moremi Hostel, notorious for housing such girls. She said: “Men come to female hostels in the evenings to call on ladies. If the lady chooses to answer them, they both go to have a nice time. If she refuses, the men will move on to the next girl till they find what they are looking for. Some other times, it is more complex than that. Aristos work with some errand boys in female hostels.These boys show the rich men who come around the pictures of different girls and the men pick anyone they want. Just like picking a style of clothing from a catalogue.
Felicia Jinadu, also a UNILAG student, lamented on what her experience has been like with these pleasure seeking men. “I have never been tempted to engage in this act but I get approached from time to time in the evenings, may be its because of my stature.I have heard of cases whereby some of our girls go with these men and never return. Some of these girls engage in it as a result of peer pressure. I heard somebody bought a car worth N7m for a lady. They engage in it because of what they can get. Some of these girls come from good homes, but are not satisfied with what they get from their parents.”
Another student, Linda, told Vanguard: The school runs have become some kind of profession for some people. It’s just like hard drug whereby if you don’t take it in a day you won’t be alright.
Written by Vanguard’s Laju Arenyeka, Anozie Egole, Iyabo Aina, Adeyeri Aderonke & Juliet Ebirim