Working in a brothel must be bleak enough as it is, but for the sex workers of the Lagos slum of Badia in Africa, the poverty, disease and abuse is even more extreme than usual.
Tens of thousands of women in this area, some as young as 14, are forced into working in these slum brothels in order to survive. Their bodies are sold for as little as £2 a client and will see up to five men each day.
Nearly a quarter of the women are working and living with HIV. Photojournalist Tom Koene set out to capture the reality of working in the brothel slums and his journey into these impoverished areas has resulted in a truly harrowing photo series. Here’s what he had to say:
If you arrive by car, you can smell the HIV virus outside.
How young and pretty the girl is determines how expensive it is. The men visit prostitutes as if they are walking into a bakery.
Within five minutes they’re out, their trousers still unzipped.
On top of the poverty and disease, many of the women live in small ‘pens’ surrounded by display boards and many have experienced violence, rape and theft in their work. Basically, these are manmade prisons for serving manmade pleasures and as a result, it is the women who endure endless suffering:
Hats off to Koene for being brave enough to raise this issue. It’s endlessly frustrating that there is so much inequality in this world, when in reality there are more than enough resources to go around.
Unfortunately, while the greedy and the powerful remain at the top, this can’t change. For a speech on hope, that speaks against the inequality in the world and offers a glimmer of hope, click HERE.