*Police rescue, arrest suspects as rights group calls for synergy
Operatives of the Rivers State Police Command have arrested some commercial sex workers in brothels at Azikiwe Street, Mile 2, Diobu Port Harcourt City Local Council of Rivers State, who have been allegedly exploiting naive under-aged girls as sex slaves.
They were arrested after operatives raided one of the brothels on August 6. The Command’s spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, who confirmed the arrest yesterday, said some under-aged girls were rescued, but did not give further details.
The Guardian learnt that some commercial sex workers has left some brothels in the area after officers from Rumulomeni (Iwofe) Police station alerted the Azikiwe Police Division in charge of the jurisdiction, following a compliant they received from a relative of one of the under-aged girls before raiding the brothel.
A resident, Peter Okosa, commended the police for rescuing the under-aged girls in the brothel at Azikiwe. Okosa explained that the older commercial sex workers who are no longer attractive to their prospective male customers go to villages to bring under-aged girls between 13 and 16 year.
According to him, they deceived their parents that they are coming to learn a trade and upon arrival at the brothels, the girls are made to swear an oath of secrecy.
“It is alarming that the older sex workers who are no longer attractive to their prospective male customers go to villages to bring these under-aged girls between ages 13 and 16 , deceiving their parents that they want to teach them trade without telling them the kind of trade.
“Upon arrival at the brothel, the girls are made to swear an oath of secrecy. The older commercial sex workers referred to as ‘madam’ collect between N500 to N1,000 for short time services from each of the girls and also collect N2,500 to N3,500 for all night services from their male customers.
“The under-aged girls are often given target of N20,000 everyday and failure to meet the target attracted physical torture from their ‘adams’”
MEANWHILE, Chairman of Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign in Rivers State, Ikechukwu Alexander, called on the police to synergise with National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) to ensure proper prosecution of arrested suspects.
Alexander, who raised the alarm that his team visited the street on Saturday afternoon after the raid said the ‘madams’got feelers that the Police were coming back to raid other brothels on the street. He said they were seen moving the teenage girls into a waiting bus which zoomed off to an unknown destination as soon as his team arrived.
He, however, called on the Rivers State Government to partner with NAPTIP to ensure regular surveillance on all the brothels in the state.
According to him, the rate of teenage prostitution and sex slavery is alarming and apart from the arrest of the ‘madams’, he wants owners of such brothels where underagirls are engaged in prostitution to be prosecuted.
Also, he urged residents of the state to join in the fight against sex slavery by giving useful and timely information to NAPTIP and other relevant security agencies.