We are very familiar with female sex workers – the oldest of all professions even in the bible, but to hear that Male sex workers are increasing in numbers, becoming more vocal, some of them are actually married men with women and children at home, and the HIV/AIDS prevalence amongst them is a significant 60% what can we make of such news.
THOUGH the trade is punishable by Cameroon penal code these workers are entitled to their human rights and need to be catered for by the state, especially when it comes to issues of health like HIV/AIDS ~ Who are we kidding Cameroon and Nigerian governments catering for WHO? … the world is in dire need to revisit its objectives – someone ring the Pope, that’s the only person I personally have faith in now…
Read excerpts from the articles below!
The Cameroonian penal code punishes “sexual relations with a person of the same sex” with imprisonment of between six months and five years and a fine of up to 200,000 CAF francs ($410) – a huge sum in a country where the average monthly wage is around 50,000 CAF francs.
According to popular beliefs, homosexuality is either a spell put over people to bewitch them, a cult or a perversion. In public discourse, the French wordhomosexuel has come to mean all things evil, according to a 2010 Human Rights Watch report on rights abuses of the gay community in Cameroon.
Being a male sex worker is like a double curse. Stigma, violence and detention are widely reported. As a result, male sex workers operate in secrecy and their male clients are also forced underground. Some, like Aurélie, dress up as women and work on the streets. But many keep their masculine appearance. They seek their clients in snack bars and strip clubs.
“Fleur”, 32, a sex worker, says he’s bisexual with a preference for men. “Sometimes the police come to arrest us,” he says. “Girls are quickly freed but the treatment of men is different. The police beat us. They say it is to remove the demon of homosexuality in us. They make us sleep on the floor in the cells and only free us after tough negotiations.” As he tells his story, tears spill down his cheeks. “This hatred makes me sad. But I feel worse because discrimination is felt even in our families and in places such as schools and hospitals.”
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, on Thursday revealed that no fewer than 3,500 male sex workers have been identified within the Abuja city center.
Expressing worry over the figure, NACA noted that over 60 per cent of the men were found to be married thereby raising concern of their spouses’ HIV status.
The Director-General of NACA, Professor John Idoko, made this known at a lecture to mark this year’s World AIDS Day in Abuja with the theme – Strategies for Ending AIDS in Nigeria by 2030. He explained that the agency is now targeting hot spots in its drive to ending the HIV epidemic.