Prostitution has been around for as long as anyone can remember. Often regarded as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution is far closer to economics than anyone dares to think. It is usually a situation where one decides or is forced to sell his/her body for food, basic necessities, material gain or other advantages. The presence of cost-value principle in this profession makes it a socio-economic phenomenon. Since we live in an age where sex is glorified and people are constantly bombarded with nude images on their television screens, the demand for sex as a commodity has become difficult to tame. In spite of the danger associated with prostitution (H.I.V, killings e.t.c), many people continue to be active in this profession as a result of poverty, especially in developing countries.
However, the focus here is on corporate prostitution which is used in reference to situations where female employees are compelled as part of a corporate policy to sell their bodies to meet the ridiculous as well as ludicrous deposit targets of the companies or firms they work for. It is a norm these days to find women in most corporate houses dressed in skimpy attires as they go about their businesses in the name of looking smart according to customer friendly policies. These women are used to pull in the big fishes or plainly put, very wealthy customers. They flatter and bat their eyelids at these clients in the hope of getting huge deposits that secure their jobs and even earn them bonuses. They are not to eager to return back to the labour market, manilla file in hand, scouring the hot streets of Lagos for a new job. The companies know this and they exploit the women to the fullest, in order to keep their businesses afloat. The worst culprits in this sense are the banks.
In the banking halls, prostitution appears to have come to stay. The difference between the women in the air conditioned cooled halls and the ones on the streets braving cold nights and flashing headlights for potential customers is that they are more sophisticated, engage more sophisticated clients, and go about their business in a more sophisticated manner, but still in the end, it is the world’s oldest profession in operation and economics plays an important role in keeping it afloat.
In 2010, when Femi Gbajabiamila, a minority whip in the Nigerian House of Representatives sponsored the Corporate Prostitution Bill, the Central Bank and many commercial banks were beside themselves with despair. With wringing hands, they protested what they saw as an attempt to sabotage the growth of the economy. For purpose of highlighting the contents of the bill, allow me to share a provision of the bill below:
– “Any person, organisation or corporate institution who engages the services of an employee on the condition that the employee meets unrealistic monetary targets, commits an offence under the Act.”
The bill goes ahead to state the limit of 25 million Naira as the limit allowed for the monetary target given to employees of corporate institutions and set to criminalize anything above it to the consternation and absolute horror of Nigerian banks. Some bank officials were quoted as saying the amount was too small to enforce as the target limit for their bottomless vaults. An official of the apex bank at that time, Simon Onekutu, said in opposition to the bill. “If we enact a law that seeks to inhibit the sector, we will kill the economy,” (Really?)
It has been two years since 2010, but we are yet to see the end of corporate prostitution. female employees with well known corporations continue to be active in the stimulation of the economy on their backs while their superiors look the other way. For some of these women, it is means of survival. Living in a third world country with eighty percent living below poverty line, this women see prostitution (corporate or not) as a far better option to being jobless, and with expert bankers giving excuses why unreasonable targets should be sustained, there is very little hope for them. I don’t know how long we will continue to live with this menace and neither do I know when this problem will end. I hope that women right groups can take action against exploitative policies that render women objects to be used for sexual gratification in corporate environments. I hope that the finance minister, a woman herself will do look into this matter. Until then, we will continue to see short Gray miniskirts topped with see through chiffon blouses in our banking halls.
Written on April 23, 2012 on www.umariayim.blogspot.com