When the sun goes down, the darker side of these two streets crawls out. A drive through Allen and Opebi at night is a tour of some of the popular strip clubs on the mainland. There are least six strip clubs on Allen Avenue and Opebi together.
Tucked in between banks and boutiques are neon lights inviting you to cabarets. Kiss Daniel could have as well been singing about these two streets on his hit single ' Sin City '.
In other parts of the world, the concept of the strip club is paying to have lap dances and watch women dance naked. In Lagos, it's a slightly different deal, a sex hustle as usual. At Unique Gentlemen , a strip club on Ogundana street, off Allen Avenue, the price for entrance is N1, on weekdays.
On Friday and Saturday, it's N2, The gate fee goes back to N, on Sunday. The new strip club is a few buildings away from the old strip club. A lap dance in the Unique Gentlemen is N1, but this cabaret just like many in Lagos is not meant for just lapdances. To gain access into the V. P of any strip club you have to pay. The fee ranges from club to club but when you enter anything and everything goes down.
You can take a stripper in there and have sex. Oh yes, you have to pay her too. The strip club business is big money. A in an interview with iCampusNG in With a seven day, a week open policy and customers looking for more than lap dances, strip clubs are raking in big money. Prostitution, as they say, is the oldest hustle in the world and in Lagos it has been going on for centuries.
They prefer the dark hallways of brothels which are more friendly to the pocket of an average working man. Prostitution is illegal in Nigeria, but many brothel owners and men of the police force have found a way around this.
This understanding has helped many brothels flourish without disturbance. Guys looking for a quick fix can drop 5k or less. If you are looking for something longer, the fee depends on your negotiating skills. And this hustle is round the clock. Apart from brothels, there are also red light districts littered across the city, from Peckers in Opebi to Simpson Street on Lagos Island.
For the ladies on the road, N2, for short time is pretty much the average. If a prostitute has five customers in one night that's N10, Sex is in big demand and prostitutes in brothels meet up most of this demand. Sex is a mass market commodity and the ladies of the night in brothels and on the streets are the suppliers.
The Nigerian Police Force gets its own cut from the sex profit, well, because it is the Nigerian Police. They too must get in on the action. Most of these prostitutes are the breadwinners of their family, sending back money to their folks who don't live in Lagos.
Sex is not only a big business, it is what puts food on the table. Lagos is divided into two, those who have and those who do not have. The boys who have a bit of cash on the weekend drink on Alomo , Gulder or Star. The hustling mainland guy and the Lekki big boy have one thing in common- sex. The evolution of the Nigerian Sex Worker. If you are a big boy in Lagos, you are most likely not going to a brothel or a strip club to get laid.
Yes, after partying hard in Quilox or any other club on the Island, there are a lot of call girls waiting for a rich dude to pick them up. Sometimes they get lucky and some days they don't. This is because a true Island big boy has a few runs girls on speed dial. Your typical runs girl in Lagos has an iPhone 6 , bouncy Peruvian hair, moves around in an Uber and lives in Lekki with four or five of her runs girls friends.
The runs girl is at the top of sex business in Lagos. She doesn't stand on the roadside or shake her ass on a stage. She is a professional sex worker that makes house calls. You can find these high priced runs girls in nightclubs or events and parties, where the rich and famous go to. They look like video vixens with exquisite bosoms and perfectly shaped bosoms.
Participants were recruited between June and August from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre MSHC , the largest sexual health clinic in Victoria, Australia, where they attended for their three monthly check up and certificate to work.
This study reports only on the 31 questions relating specifically to work characteristics, personal relationships, rates of abuse, condom use, and the levels of mental separation between sex work and personal relationships.
Three questions measuring the separation of work and personal relationships were developed based on a scale of work-family conflict [ 41 ]. An additional two questions were developed by study investigators and related specifically to sex work and personal relationships. Questions included both closed and open ended responses.
Member checking can be undertaken for a variety of reasons, including as a means of validating study findings and ensuring the credibility of results [ 42 ].
Participants were first asked to describe their background in the sex industry before they were verbally presented with the major findings of the study and asked to comment on whether the findings reflected their personal and broader experience of working in the indoor sex industry.
Women were opportunistically recruited to the study during a routine three monthly clinical appointment for sexually transmitted infection testing to obtain their certificate to work. Women were identified through CPMS. During the consultation a nurse briefly explained the study to eligible women and invited them to participate. Women interested in participating were offered a plain language statement and questionnaire at the end of their consultation and given the option to complete the questionnaire privately onsite or complete the questionnaire off-site and return it in a reply paid envelope.
The questionnaire was anonymous with no identifying information collected. Women involved in the member checking interviews were recruited by the same method and interviewed either face to face or by telephone, depending on their preference. Questionnaires were entered into SPSS and analysed using descriptive and frequency analysis. Open-ended questions were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis applied. Thematic analysis is a method of identifying, analysing and reporting patterns in qualitative data, which are commonly referred to as themes, to organise the data and convey important and relevant meanings [ 43 ].
Open-ended responses were firstly read and re-read by CB to identify the major themes and categories arising from the data. Themes were developed based on relevant background literature, questions derived from the aims of the study and issues raised by women. Once identified, themes and categories were coded and text responses grouped according to similarities and differences.
Responses were re-read again by CB to further revise, refine and confirm categories. To ensure consistency and reliability of data analysis, two secondary researchers JB and SC examined a subset of qualitative questionnaire responses to cross check themes and categories. No further themes or differences in interpretations were identified by either secondary researcher.
Member checking interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and the same thematic analysis process applied. A total of 55 women completed the questionnaire. In addition, one woman started and returned the questionnaire but only completed the initial demographic questions and her results were therefore not included in the study. For pragmatic reasons and due to the anonymous nature of the questionnaire we were unable to keep a record of all the women who accepted a questionnaire and did not complete and return it, or the reasons for non-completion.
Table 1 summarises the demographic characteristics of participants. All 55 participants had been in a relationship at some point in their lives.
Over half of the women in the study were single at the time of completing the questionnaire. Of the women who were in a relationship, just under half were married or living with their partner.
The relationship demographics of the sample are summarised in Table 2. The main ways in which sex work negatively impacted on women in relationships were around issues of dishonesty and distrust, jealousy, stigma and pragmatic issues.
Table 3 provides further quotes from women around these issues. Some women commented that sex work caused problems in their relationships but did not elaborate further. I have a lot of problems in my relationship because of my work… I just don't want to cause any more problems. The job doesn't help when in a relationship. It's much easier to be single , but I am human , I have feelings. When work is not brought up it is usually fine , but I do feel bad when I think about what they have to put up with.
Of the women in relationships, only half had told their partners they were working in the sex industry. Women who had not told their partners about their work commonly expressed concerns about lying to their partners and the guilt this caused them to feel, which in turn raised issues of trust. Some women who were lying to their partners about the nature of their work questioned whether their partners might also be deceiving them. I have trusting problems , I feel guilty.
All the time I feel like I am a bad person. Women were commonly worried about their partner finding out about their work or thinking they were being unfaithful. All the lying , I have to make up excuses and he is very suspicious.
We always fight about it. For these women, not telling their partners about their work led to questioning about their faithfulness. For women who had told their partners about their work, the impact of sex work on their relationships was largely determined by how their partners reacted when they found out and how they felt about them doing sex work.
The majority of women reported that being honest with their partners about their work had impacted negatively on their relationship rather than positively. Problems often arose when partners had issues with the nature of their work, and experienced jealousy, resulting in arguments.
My relationship before this , the guy found it very hard to deal with. The stigma associated with sex work in the wider community was a major barrier for most women in their relationships, causing difficulties with the level of support and understanding they received from their partners.
It is not the fact that I am a sex worker but the fact that stigma is attached to the work , that can cause issues. Other issues in relationships were more pragmatic, with many women reporting that after having to have sex with clients at work all day they were tired and did not want to come home and have sex with their partner.
While most women reported negative impacts on their relationships from sex work, a few felt that sex work had positively impacted on their relationships. These women felt that sex work had enabled them to experience deeper intimacy with their partners and that sex work improved their private sex life as well as their self-esteem and confidence.
We are closer because I need to be more honest about my sexual energy and needs. It has also proven he is not a possessive or sexist man which is important to me. Being a dominatrix has given me so much confidence and makes me proud to do the work I do. Women who reported positive impacts on their relationships from sex work tended to take a holistic view of sex work, regarding it as an important part of their life and who they were.
These women were less inclined to feel the need to separate their work and home lives, which in turn impacted positively on their personal lives and relationships. I don't separate it too much. It is my life and all parts are important. I am also lucky to have supportive SW sex worker and non-SW sic friends and family. Some women similarly felt that their profession was better understood, and it was easier on their relationship, if they were dating ex-clients who had an understanding of the nature of their work due to their prior experience of sex worker services.
I met my current partner through work , he was a client. That in some ways has made it easier to negotiate being a sex worker because he knows what I do. Over half of the women in the study were single, mainly out of choice, and mostly due to the nature of their work. Some women reported that generally the nature of their work was not conducive to having a relationship, however they did not elaborate further. More commonly women reported that they chose to remain single while doing sex work either because they were not comfortable with being in a relationship while working in the sex industry or because they felt that partners would not be comfortable with the nature of their work.
Interestingly, quite a few women specifically commented that they would not want to be with someone who was comfortable with them being a sex worker. Generally, these women assumed that while they were working it would be better to stay single because the sort of partner they would want to be with was not the type that would want a partner doing sex work.
Other women reported that they felt the need to lie to many people in their lives about the nature of their work and they did not want to lie to a sexual partner, which is why they preferred to stay single while working in the sex industry. Women commonly felt they could not be honest about the nature of their work and this created barriers with relationships and intimacy. Single women also struggled to be honest about the nature of their work due to the stigma attached to the sex industry.
Single women often reported that potential partners did not understand the true nature of their work and the stigma associated with it caused many partners to react negatively. A number of women also spoke of an inability to trust men which developed either early in their lives as a result of physical or sexual abuse or as a consequence of sex work, impacting heavily on their desire to have a relationship.
Because of all the nice and lovely men I have met through work not the pricks I no longer trust men to be faithful. Three sex workers in particular reported that their work had a substantial impact on all facets of their lives. Sex work had become something that defined their whole lives and these women seemed to be more desperate to leave the industry altogether. While many women felt their work kept them from having relationships, a minority reported they were not single because of their work nor did their work have a major impact on their relationships.
If I was to meet someone and there was a chance of anything , I would tell them what I do. Their reaction to it is their business. These women expressed a desire to be in a relationship, be honest about their work and find a partner who would be comfortable and accept their work.
About half of women, either single or in a relationship, spoke about the need to maintain a distinction between their work and personal lives, some however, found this easier to do than others. This was often because they felt they were deceiving people in their personal lives. If problems occur at work , it may be hard to hide them in your personal life.
It has become harder to separate , this is because it kills me to lie and as an older sister I wish I could set a more responsible and steady example. Most women separated their work life from their home life, mainly to try and limit the impact of their work life on their personal life.
I'm pretty good at maintaining it all separately. However , I am on anti-depressants which helps a lot. Of the women, a few reported ways in which they separated their sex work from their personal lives including one sex worker who reported that to keep her work life and personal life separate she did not spend time with other sex workers outside of work. A number of other women reported that condom use was a way in which they separated sex at work with sex at home.
Women generally used condoms with their clients but not with their personal partners. Never with my former partner as he'd had a vasectomy and we were both checked out and tested. While trying to separate their two lives may have been useful for some women, others found that trying to separate their work and home life made things more difficult and isolating. I find it isolating and stressful to not be able to discuss work at home or with friends.
It used to be quite easy to separate but I am in love with my current partner and this makes it very hard. Overall, women who member checked the questionnaire results agreed with the findings of the study. Tables 4 and 5 provide an overview of their experiences in the sex industry and examples of the impact sex work has on their personal relationships and their use of mental separation as a coping mechanism.
The main difference found between the experiences of the 55 sex workers who completed the questionnaire and the six women interviewed for member checking was that the member checking women were more likely to focus on both the positive and negative effects of sex work on their personal lives and relationships.
Women who completed the questionnaire were more likely to report on the negative effects. Just under half of women were in a relationship at the time of completing the questionnaire, and of these women, just over half reported their partners were not aware they were working in the sex industry. The majority of women who had told their partners they were working in the sex industry experienced largely negative impacts around jealousy and misunderstanding due to the stigma associated with the sex industry.
Interestingly, the difficulties women in relationships reported due to the nature of their work were the same issues or reasons why many women chose to remain single while employed in sex work. A few women reported positive impacts of working in the sex industry and being in a relationship, including an improved sex life, higher levels of intimacy with their partner and improved self-esteem and confidence. Over half of women reported they found it difficult to mentally separate their work life from their personal life, using mechanisms such as not socialising with other sex workers or using condoms with clients but not with romantic partners to separate the two spheres.
The findings from this study support and extend previous findings [ 25 , 33 , 37 ] which have also found that women working in the sex industry commonly report negative impacts on their relationships as a result of their work due to issues around lying, trust and feelings of guilt.
In a study by Warr and Pyett [ 37 ] of condom use among women working in the sex industry in Australia, women in relationships commonly experienced similar negative impacts due to the nature of their work. Past research has shown that it is not uncommon for couples in other occupations to also experience negatives issues associated with suspicion, jealousy and questions of faithfulness [ 44 ]. These issues commonly result if violations of trust and loyalty occur, which are thought to be integral to relationship satisfaction.
As previous studies have also found [ 14 — 18 ], stigma was a major barrier in sex workers personal romantic relationships, with women commonly reporting that partners misunderstood the true nature of their work due to negative stigma surrounding the sex industry, leading to significant problems in their relationships.
As found in this study and others, the shame associated with doing sex work contributed to many women not disclosing the nature of their work for fear of being judged or rejected [ 14 , 17 — 19 ]. It was also common for women in this study to feel the need to maintain a distinction between their work and personal life, using separation as a coping mechanism to manage the two spheres of their lives, including not socialising with other sex workers, and using condoms with clients but not with romantic partners.
This has previously been suggested to reflect levels of intimacy in relationships as well as creating a symbolic barrier between sex at work and sex at home [ 34 , 37 ]. Other common coping mechanisms sex workers use to separate the two spheres, a number of which were identified in this study, include lying to their partners and significant people in their lives about their work, trying to maintain a psychological distinction between sex at work and home, and changing dress, makeup and even persona in order to maintain distinctions between their work life and personal life [ 19 , 25 — 29 , 37 ].
The stigma associated with sex work is likely to prevent women from being able to breakdown the borders between their work and personal lives, particularly where partners are not supportive or understanding of the nature of their work which contributes to their inability to discuss their work openly.
The theory of mentally separating work and home has been previously explored through the lens of border theory which posits that when work and home lives are very different it is important to maintain strong borders around them in order to lead a balanced life [ 34 ]. The women in this study appeared to have mixed reactions around mentally separating their work and home life, with the majority of women finding it useful to maintain a distinction between the two, and the few who felt it was unnecessary more likely to view sex work as an important part of their lives and identity.
Previous research has similarly shown that creating distinctions between work and personal lives was an important aspect of coping for many women in the sex industry [ 17 , 32 , 45 ]. The ability to do this can depend on individual differences such as personal coping style and ways of thinking about their work. Some women found separating the two worlds useful and even had a separate persona for work than for home as has been shown previously [ 17 , 19 , 29 , 32 ]. Women who viewed sex work as part of their lives and who they were, were more likely to be in a position to freely discuss their work with their romantic partners, most of who accepted it well and often had a greater understanding of the industry.
Women who had supportive partners tended to report more positive experiences of the impact of work on their relationships and demonstrated a more integrated psychological approach to work and home life balance. Interestingly, single women in this study commonly chose not to have a relationship while working in the sex industry for the same reasons the women in relationships raised.
Women did not want to have to lie to potential partners or deal with the trust issues they knew would inevitably arise. These findings are consistent with previous study findings by Warr and Pyett [ 37 ], who reported that a number of women were concerned about having a relationship while working in the sex industry for these reasons.
As we found in this study, a considerable number of women also reported they did not want a relationship while working in the sex industry as the relationships available to them did not seem to fit with their idea of a healthy relationship. Women reported that they did not want a partner who would be comfortable with them doing sex work and associated this with commitment, respect and love.
This relationship paradox whereby women felt it was impossible to have a relationship while working in the sex industry as it would only be possible with a man that they would not want to be with is worth exploring further. While the women themselves may be comfortable with their choice to work in the sex industry they do not want a partner who is comfortable with them engaging in sex work, indicating their views of sex work may be much more complex than is initially apparent, and they may not be as comfortable with sex work as it appears.
To our knowledge this is the first study to specifically explore the experiences of indoor sex workers in relation to the impact of sex work on their personal relationships and the use of mental separation as a coping mechanism.
A further strength of this study is that it focused on sex workers who are involved in the legal sex industry where occupational health and safety regulations are enforced. Women are more likely to present with issues due to the work itself, such as issues regarding their emotional wellbeing and relationships, rather than, for example, issues around personal safety.
Although indoor sex workers safety is still of some concern it is much more likely to be an issue in the illegal sex industry. The study had a number of limitations. Firstly, the results of this study are based on a relatively small sample of indoor sex workers from one sexual health centre in Victoria, Australia and as such the findings may not be generalizable to the broader population of sex workers in Australia. We have been successful in identifying a number of avenues that are important for further investigation and future large scale studies among a broad, diverse sample of sex workers are now required to confirm the findings of this study and determine generalisability.
Secondly, the depth of data collection was not at the level of an interview style qualitative study. The self-report nature of the questionnaire may not have allowed women to fully explore their feelings and experiences in the open text areas, however, the anonymous nature of the questionnaire may have also allowed women to feel freer to express their feelings and opinions more honestly without the presence of an interviewer.
The self-report method may also have limited the findings due to potential responder bias however, again, it is possible that in being anonymous women may have been more comfortable and honest about their experiences than if they were identifiable or the questionnaire was interviewer administered.
This exploratory study identified some key issues women working in the sex industry face when trying to balance their work and personal romantic relationships.
This study enabled women to share some of the emotional impacts of their work, the information of which is likely to be useful to health care and support workers in assisting sex workers to manage the tensions between their work and personal romantic relationships. While these findings are clearly not generalizable to the wider community of sex workers, they have provided a useful insight into this largely under researched area, and support the need for a larger study to be undertaken to determine if the findings of this study are reflected in a larger, more representative sample of Australian sex workers.
Consideration should be given to including both indoor and outdoor sex workers who face considerably different work and personal issues which are likely to impact on their personal romantic relationships in different ways.
It is likely women from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, diverse sexualities and partner type, and geographic area will experience differing impacts of sex work and it is important future interventions recognise and tailor support programs accordingly. It is possible other associated issues faced by women such as dishonestly and lying would be of less concern if they felt confident and comfortable to disclose their true profession to partners, family and friends without fear of judgement or stigmatisation.
Nevertheless, the issues that women face in their relationships as a result of sex work are clearly complex and there will not be one simple solution to address such a wide range of experiences. The findings of the current study suggest that sex work impacts personal romantic relationships in mainly negative ways. The impacts ranged in manifestation and severity but overwhelmingly caused issues around trust, deception, lying and jealousy.
Negotiating the viability of potential relationships while working in the sex industry was an issue for a variety of reasons including stigma, trust and the types of relationships that women felt they wanted. It is important to note however, that a minority of women did report positive effects of sex work on their relationships and sex lives, which highlights the diversity of experiences in this group of women.
We would like to thank all the women who kindly consented to participate in this study as well as the doctors and nurses at Melbourne Sexual Health Centre for their help in referring women to this study.
Conceived and designed the experiments: Click through the PLOS taxonomy to find articles in your field.
Methods Fifty-five women working in the indoor sex industry in Melbourne, Australia, were recruited to complete a self-report questionnaire about various aspects of their work, including the impact of sex work on their personal relationships. October 30, Copyright: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited Data Availability: Introduction Sex work involves one or more services where sex is exchanged for money or goods [ 1 ].
Method This exploratory study allowed for preliminary investigation in an area in which very limited data is currently available....
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Sex is not only a big business, it is what puts food on the table. Lagos is divided into two, those who have and those who do not have. The boys who have a bit of cash on the weekend drink on Alomo , Gulder or Star. The hustling mainland guy and the Lekki big boy have one thing in common- sex.
The evolution of the Nigerian Sex Worker. If you are a big boy in Lagos, you are most likely not going to a brothel or a strip club to get laid. Yes, after partying hard in Quilox or any other club on the Island, there are a lot of call girls waiting for a rich dude to pick them up.
Sometimes they get lucky and some days they don't. This is because a true Island big boy has a few runs girls on speed dial. Your typical runs girl in Lagos has an iPhone 6 , bouncy Peruvian hair, moves around in an Uber and lives in Lekki with four or five of her runs girls friends.
The runs girl is at the top of sex business in Lagos. She doesn't stand on the roadside or shake her ass on a stage. She is a professional sex worker that makes house calls. You can find these high priced runs girls in nightclubs or events and parties, where the rich and famous go to. They look like video vixens with exquisite bosoms and perfectly shaped bosoms.
Their lips are glittering and moist. And their eyes are always in search for the next human ATM machine. Back in the day, most runs girls lived on the campuses of Nigerian universities. In the 90s and 00s, campus prostitution was such a thriving business that pimps had photo albums of chicks that men could pick from. As Internet penetration became higher in Nigeria, the sex hustle became digital. First, it was 2go and Badoo , but when Tinder came to town, you could now get sex with just a swipe.
Tinder is meant to be a dating app but it is now a flesh parlour where you can pay for the services of a runs girl. It is more than likely that 3 or 4 out of 10 women you meet on Tinder are selling sex. Sex with these Tinder babes goes for nothing less than N20, And the babes are willing to do everything except anal sex, well that's until you offer them money too good to refuse.
To assist the Tinder hustle, these runs advertise their goods on Instagram and SnapChat also. Ever wondered how an unemployed babe can go to Dubai for weeks? This is where Instagram and SnapChat comes in. Rich Dubai men have been known to fly our runs girls to their city for bizarre sexual acts after seeing their sexy photos on these apps.
Just like football players, some runs girls are foreign based who get flown out frequently and others play the local scene.
Hotels and especially guest houses are springing up at a fast rate in Lagos mainly because married men want to have sex. You can't bring a runs girl to your house so you take her to a guest house. As with most things in Lagos, the rates of rooms in guest houses on the mainland are cheaper than that on the Island.
Have sex according to your pocket. Sex is booming on the streets, in strip clubs, night clubs, on campuses and on apps. Millions of Naira change hands each day from the people who want this sweet commodity to the people who provide it. Sex has helped the hospitality and private taxi businesses flourish, proving it is a strong player in this city's economy.
The University of Lagos is notorious for runs girls. Landlords too benefit from the demand as thousands of Lekki runs girls have to hustle to pay rent. In this city you can get sex by hitting up a local brothel or tapping an app on your phone.
However you want it, you can get it as long as your price is right. As the popular saying goes " money for hand, back for ground. The only crime in Lagos is if you do not have money.
He's also a music critic and all round nice guy. Prostitution The economy of sex in Lagos city The business of sex is a booming business in Lagos city and it is also one of the biggest commodities sold.
The city of Lagos is a concrete jungle of roughly 20 million people. Like Pulse Nigeria Gist. Follow Pulse Nigeria Gist. Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Nigeria?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: Earlier in the century sex workers had been incarcerated in state prisons along with other criminals. However, the fear developed that this would lead to them becoming further hardened to a life of crime and immorality. The establishment and management of these reform institutions were very much the preserve of the middle and upper classes, with a mixture of religious and lay people founding, funding and overseeing the work undertaken there.
In a manner which very much reflected the prevailing gender roles of the time, men were involved in the public side of the work. Such homes, run by the Church of England, tried to create a home-like atmosphere where Christian women would help rehabilitate the inmates. In the Victorian era the home was deemed the natural habitat of women and such an environment was meant to provide a measure of comfort and support to inmates. Feminist scholars such as Paula Bartley have also recognised that this environment also obscured the power relationships occurring within the institution.
Although mothers are kind and caring they also discipline and control the behaviour of their children. Therefore, the maternal approach to reform found in such institutions actually underlined the authority held over the inmates by the committees running them.
Age, for example, was a defining factor in admission. It was believed that older sex workers were less salvageable and more hardened to life on the streets. It was feared, therefore, that they would be a bad influence on the younger girls. Most inmates were quite young, between the ages of 15 and Health also played a role in determining which women were admitted to a home. Residents would be expected to undertake physical labour in the home and, therefore, strong and healthy girls were favoured.
Most importantly inmates needed to show a genuine desire to change their lives and repent. The House of Mercy encountered difficulties with this element, judging by its second Annual Report. It complained that women who seemed to show genuine contrition only stayed for a short term before returning to their previous ways of life.
Laundry work in particular was not only considered excellent training for domestic service, but also contributed financially to the running of the institution. This is because institutions were paid for their laundry services by private homes. There was also a more symbolic element to the process of laundering. With cleanliness and godliness being closely related in Christianity, the washing and scrubbing of laundry represented the scrubbing away of previous sins and the cleansing of souls.
The hard graft undertaken also served as a penance. Religious instruction often given by the ladies of the committee was therefore deemed to be a key aspect of the reform programme.
In reality the job insecurity of domestic service actually fed the ranks of prostitution as women turned to vice out of financial desperation. Without realising, the philanthropists of the Victorian era were actually perpetuating the situation in which these women found themselves.
Although daily records and individual accounts of the women who passed through these institutions rarely survive we can gain some information about them from annual reports. It was recommended that women stay for a period of two years to complete the full reform programme.
However, the annual reports of the House of Mercy regularly document women either requesting to leave early or being thrown out for bad behaviour. This can be seen as evidence of resistance to the moral reform and surveillance the women inmates experienced.
From the records of an institution in Swansea run by Anglican nuns we can gain some information on the backgrounds of the women there. Most inmates came from the lower classes and many were perceived as coming from difficult homes. One report at the Swansea home in stated: Another girl of 17 years of age came shortly after and made the same request, as her mother was drunken and immoral.
In a similar situation to the Cardiff House of Mercy the nuns at the Swansea home were to provide a new home for the inmates and took on the role of mothers to them. Life in these homes did not consist solely of a routine of work and religious education.
Sometimes inmates were taken on day-trips as treats. Again, even these treats were a means of encouraging in the women respectable middle-class behaviour. Outings to amusements, such as fairs, were avoided because they were seen as a potential source of immorality.
It is difficult to assess the success or failure of such institutions because of the limited sources of information available to us.