A court in Nigeria has declared that commercial sex work is not a crime since the country has no law that forbids it at the moment.
Justice Binta Nyako of the high court in the capital, Abuja gave this ruling on Thursday after awarding damages to 16 women who were arrested for prostitution in 2017.
The Abuja police in April this year also raided bars, clubs, and lounges rounding up over 100 women for engaging in prostitution.
The women, who were arrested and detained for several days were taken to a mobile court and allegedly pressured to plead guilty to charges of prostitution on the spot.
The high court ruled that the security agents that arrested the women in 2017 violated their rights when they broke into their homes alleging that they were sex workers.
Some of the arrested women accused police officers of rape and extortion, triggering protests in Ghana and Nigeria.
Implications of the ruling
This ruling is considered very significant since it is the first time a Nigerian court is making a judgment on whether commercial sex work is legal or otherwise.
Prostitution is very common in Nigerian and other African countries and this ruling could have far-reaching implications for Nigeria.
Often security agencies launch crackdowns on commercial sex workers, arresting them to either harass, extort or publicly shame them.
Many Nigerian women also ply this trade outside the country, becoming known for engaging in sex work in other countries.
Human traffickers sometimes also deceive some Nigerian women into the trade b promising them better life in Europe.
In general many in African societies consider sex work embarrassing and immoral.