Urethra is the safety net for her only son Michael. Michael and his mother live a kind of moving around life, bouncing from place to place, jail, to the street, to Urethra’s many hang out spots. Despite the frustration behind not being settled, mother and child have been a team in seeing their ends meet, food is on the table at least once a day and that medicines are brought for Urethra’s troubling fixation, sex.
Urethra says she has seen hardship since she was a girl and blames her recent life challenges on not wanting to go back to the days of suffering, abuse and uncertainty.
“I want to do whatever I can to make sure that I don’t repeat how my life once was,” she narrated with emotion.
Maybe you have known abuse, addiction, financial hardship and common problems in life that many can’t seem to get out of and according to Urethra, she will give up her life in making sure these dreadful problems don’t come her way again.
“I have found solidarity in what I do with my life now and know that my problems are solved,” she added.
Urethra has been prostituting for the past five years and says she will not quit. Not because she loves the money it has to offer or the free will of giving her body away, but because she is unable to find a job with little or no education.
“I really never went to school but understand a lot. Most places I go to find a job at the end of the day don’t hire me but want something else in place. Sex is the most valuable thing I think I have to offer for now,” she stated.
Urethra has been raising her son by herself, supporting him as best she could by doing side jobs in nightclubs, being an escort and working as a prostitute. Doubt and insecurity has become a fact of everyday life.
Poverty is a fact that has devastated Liberia and many young women in its society. When I asked Urethra for permission to spend time with her and her son to write about her life, she was ready to assist.
“I’m not saying I’m going to change,” she told me. “But maybe I can help somebody not to follow in my footsteps if they read my life story. There have been some good times and some rough ones,” she shared.
After spending close to an entire day with the duo, I realized that Urethra, by 6:00pm, gets ready for her daily routine of sleeping with at least three men at a local motel spot in Logan Town. To my utter surprise, when she was ready to leave for her peculiar journey, she called her son inside and told him to lock himself inside.
“He has to sleep alone at nights so I can go and hustle. Unfortunately he’s not in school this year because I couldn’t make any real money during the Ebola period, but this time around I promise to put him in school next year,” she assured.
I watched as she wore a noticeably see-through blouse over a pair of very short shorts. Her body was as exposed as it needed to be to give her possible sex clients eye tease.
Michael began crying as she left the room and headed towards a parking motorcycle.
“Mama, I want to sleep, please let me sleep before you go,” Michael begged.
Urethra was gone and in her place now stood an eerie silence that was trickled by Michael’s low cries. A routine of his that happens every night his mother has to go and sell.
Meanwhile, while Urethra continues to do her business the fact still remains, there is nothing positively happening in Liberia to stop women like herself from prostitution. Prostitution is a dangerous act that can lead to serious health problems and even death. Though many prostitutes enjoy what they do and seek refuge in the act, they fail to realize that their life style cannot go on forever.
Urethra says she only wants to keep doing what she does and hopes that those who look down on her get to understand that she does it for her son and not for her own pleasure.
“I don’t like having sex all day or getting infections that can come with it, but my son is what matters and trust me, it’s not easy having a child and being a prostitute at the same time,” she said.