The recent raid of Abuja nightclubs by Policemen that led to the arrest of many women (but no men) suspected to be sex workers has sparked debate online and offline. One of the threads of the discussion centers on whether people who engage in sex work are vulnerable.
Dr. Ola Brown, the founder of Nigeria’s Flying Doctors, an Air-ambulance emergency medical service, responded to a tweet on this matter for all her 43k followers to see.
The math was too tempting to ignore so we decide to break out our calculators do some number crunching.
In dollar terms, N10,000 per hour divided by N365 is $27.35.
In America, the national minimum wage is $7.25 (N2,646) per hour. Since the 50 states that make up America are independent, they are able to set a minimum wage that is higher but they can’t pay lower.
From available data, the state that pays the highest minimum wage in America is the District of Colombia (Washington D.C.) at $13.25 (N4,836)
So, we can see that a sex worker making N10k per hour makes more than the highest minimum wage in America. But let’s bring this home to Nigeria.
The minimum wage in Nigeria was just recently increased to N30,000 per month. Assuming a 40-hour work week, that’s 160 hours worked in a month. If we divide N30k by 160 hours we get N187.5 per hour. So we can see that N10k per hour vs N187 per hour is like comparing driving across the third mainland bridge in an air-conditioned car with crossing the bride barefoot under the hot sun.
But wait, which sex worker works for 8 hours a day, and 40 hours a week? A human or Cyborg?
Most sex workers work on weekends starting on Friday night usually from around 10pm or 11pm. So, the next question is: how long does it take to ermm…. “service” a client?
A study was carried out in 2005 by America’s National Institutes of Health. You need to read the title of the study to believe it:
“A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time.”
Oṣé science! LOL!
Anyway, they looked at 500 couples from 5 countries: Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, and America and timed them. The average time for sexual intercourse ranged from just 33 seconds to 44 minutes. The median time though was 5.4 minutes.
Dear reader, WHERE DO YOU RANK?
Wait, don’t answer that.
For the sake of our discussion, let’s assume all Nigerians are bedroom warriors that scream “THIS IS SPARTA!!” and last an hour at a minimum.
Assuming our sex worker gets their first client at 10pm on Friday night, finishes at 11pm, takes 30 minutes to freshen up, sees their next client at midnight, and continues at those intervals until 5am, they’d end up with N40k for the night
Including Saturday, that’s N80k a week which works out to N320k a month. We didn’t even include Sunday nights or the night before a public holiday during the week (like today, May 1st, Worker’s day, which is a Wednesday).
So a conservative estimate with just 8 clients a week on Friday and Saturday night earns N320k a month at N10k per hour. Is that “poor”? The math disagrees. Also, consider that some sex work is a side hustle. There are sex workers getting by during the week with jobs who supplement their income during the weekend. Sex work aside, is ANY work that pays N10k/hour considered poor?
What do you think? Keep on talking!