Constituting The Unsafe: Nigerian Sex Workers' Notions of Unsafe Sexual Conduct
This article reports findings of a qualitative inquiry on representations of unsafe sexual conduct among female sex workers in Aba, Nigeria. Participating sex workers viewed their work as a form of business, a survival imperative in the face of poverty, and they generally considered it both risky and disgraceful. However, they frequently framed unsafe sexual behavior in terms of poorly remunerated unprotected sex with clients. Sex workers in the study were not only generally willing to grant, but also confirmed regularly granting, unprotected sex to clients offering to pay a premium for it. Receiving “good money” for unprotected sex made higher degrees of risk acceptable to these women and was considered an effective way to avoid clients assumed to be carriers of infections. In their struggle for sexual health, sex workers in Nigeria are hindered by poverty, powerlessness, and marginality. Future programs must aim, inter alia, at supporting sex workers' willingness to insist on condoms no matter what clients offer them to do otherwise.