By Doriane Irakoze Baribwegure

Real talk: what is prostitution to you?

Warning: I don’t want anybody to feel like I’m judging. I just want to bring out some obvious facts that we often choose to ignore.

Prostitution in Burundi has been all over the Internet and newspapers lately. Some of the girls we read about had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution and others hadn’t.  Those who hadn’t been forced were split in many categories, and some aren’t even called prostitutes. They are portrayed as girls who are just “trying to have fun”. But who are we trying to fool? Are we trying to convince ourselves of something else?

The first category is the ladies we see on the street at night: they are prostitutes, and they call themselves so. If you asked them, that is what they would tell you. They earn their living through prostitution. But those are not the only prostitutes, if we go by the definition that “prostitution is a practice of engaging in sexual relations, in a promiscuous way, in exchange for money or other things of value” (according to Google 🙂 ).

Those girls we always see with foreigners (some call them “call girls”): isn’t that another form of prostitution?  What about young girls that hang out with old married men often referred to as “sugar daddies”?

The sugar daddy virus was not so big a few years back. Well, I think. But nowadays, it’s just a full blow epidemic. Everywhere you go, you see young girls with men old enough to be their dads. If you dare ask questions or give advice, you’ll be looked at like you’re some old grandma who just landed from another planet. The saying “la nuit c’est la nuit, tous les chats sont gris” is on point. It’s so true. At night, all the cats come out and they are all of same color: one that looks good on sugar daddies.

That got me thinking: how much do the men give? The whole sugar daddy thing is based on money, right?  Or am I wrong?  I mean, you have parents they pay for your school fees in the best schools, you are not hungry and they give you everything you need/want [well, hypothetically]… So why do you still go out looking for some old man to give you more money? If you ask your parents, I am sure they will give you the money you need; unless, they decide that you don’t need it, which in most cases is true. Here, I am especially focusing on young girls who are still in school, who are under 18 and who are supposed to be the future leaders, mothers or even President (why not?).

Our country might be going through some hard times, but is that a reason to be a sugar baby? And for adult girls, I guess you all know what you are doing, but I’m sure it’s not the right thing, because it’s not the example you want to give to your young sisters or other young ladies out there, is it? I am sure we all have that person we see and aspire to be like. So if what we are doing is not right, what kind of examples are we setting?

A few weeks ago, Iwacu told us about a girl who studied at an “expensive school” and who disappeared for two weeks without her parents knowing where she was. Obviously, they were worried that something had happened to her: it was the longest she had gone missing. The police found her in some house in Kanyosha squeezed on a bed with other girls, drunk.  My question here is: was it still about the money, or was she just trying to “fit in”? And if it’s about fitting in, isn’t this the kind of behavior that encourages human traffic, pimps and prostitution networks? Because who knows: this time they found her, but what if it were to happen again. Are there any guarantees she would be found?

Once you’ve started getting easy money I guess it’s difficult to quit. But easy money doesn’t last long. I guess it’s the reason why you keep on going back for more. If you look back and check how much money you made and how you used it, what do you see? Was it worth it? Is it the kind of future you want for yourself?

Education is the best thing anybody can give to you. It’s a lifetime gift that will take you far. But it requires patience, efforts and hard work. Alcohol, drugs, money all combined will not get you anywhere as far as I know – other than the grave that you are digging for yourself. It’s about time we take the wakeup call for the right path. It won’t be easy, but in the end it will be worth it.

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Doriane currently lives and works in Bujumbura