West Africa’s ebola outbreak has drastically slowed business in Nigeria’s informal employment sector which employs 75% of Nigeria’s economy. Sex workers are among the hardest hit.
Since the first case of ebola in Nigeria was reported in July, sex workers have seen a drastic decline in patronage in the otherwise booming trade.
“I have been in this business for two years but business has never been this slow,” said Kate, a 25 year-old Lagos sex-worker, “I used to have an average of seven customers per day but I can hardly see four now since this Ebola disease came to town,”.
The ebola virus is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person – including sweat. Naturally, this would create an aversion to the sex industry.
“Many of our customers are afraid to come to us for fear of contracting the disease. This Ebola wahala (problem) is really bad business. The government should do something about it.”
Bright, a 23 year-old sex worker says the disease is worse than the HIV/Aids pandemic.
“It is worse than HIV/AIDS. You can prevent HIV by using condoms but you can’t do the same with Ebola,” she said.
But their sector is not the only one affected. Merchants of bushmeat, a delicacy in the region, have also complained of lesser numbers. The hunters of antelope, porcupine and bush rats fear that ebola may’ve taken away their livelihoods as it is also believed that the virus is spread through bushmeat.
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