If you want prostitution to be legal, send your proposal – National Assembly tells Sex workers

The Chairman, House Committee on HIV/AIDS, David Ombugadu, has called on the Nigerian Sex Workers Association to send a proposal to the National Assembly if it is serious about getting prostitution decriminalised.

The National Coordinator of the sex workers, Amaka Enemo, had a few months ago called on the Federal Government to decriminalise sex work, saying doing so would curb the spread of HIV.

She had also stated that countries where prostitution was legal had lower rates of HIV than countries where sex work was illegal.

Reacting to the sex workers’ demand at an event held in commemoration of the 2017 World AIDS Day, in Abuja on Wednesday, the lawmaker said the sex workers were free to approach the National Assembly.

Speaking at the event, with the theme, ‘Right to health, making it happen,’ which was organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Ombugadu said if the bill was brought to the National Assembly, it would be duly considered.

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He said, “I use this opportunity to invite you to be part of the process. Lawmaking is a process and for it to be complete, it must be inclusive and participatory. So, we appreciate the proposal and whenever it is presented to the National Assembly, we will subject it to the proper legislative procedure and then to test the opinion of your group or constituency to see whether it will pass the test of law.

“So, we are open to Nigerians and anybody to bring any type of proposal and you can achieve that through private member-sponsored bills. There are bills that are executive. Anyone coming from NACA will be seen as an executive bill but if it is coming from your group or members, we will welcome you.”

Also speaking, the Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said “high risk” individuals played a huge role in spreading HIV and would thus need to be considered.

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Aliyu called on state governments to set aside 0.5 per cent of their monthly allocations from the Federation Account for the treatment of HIV.

The NACA boss added, “We are calling on state governments to set aside 0.5 per cent of their monthly allocation to HIV but more importantly to ensure that the HIV is included in the 2018 budget. HIV is primarily a primary and secondary health care issue.”

Aliyu said over 170,000 pregnant women were in need of HIV treatment at any given time but lamented that most pregnant women with HIV were not coming out for treatment.

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