The use of fairly used under wears among men and women in the country is increasing by the day, in spite of the health hazard experts say is associated with it. Our reporter, Evelyn Okoruwa takes a look at why the business is booming
Do you know you could contact sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, candidacies and others by wearing fairly used undergarments- if the person that previously used them had these diseases?
A microbiologist, Mr. Ejeh Ehimen, said that fairly used undergarments should be banned as they are dangerous and could harbour harmful germs and diseases that can survive on fabrics for weeks.
Undergarment is any clothe that you wear under other clothes and next to the skin. They keep the outer garments from being soiled by bodily secretion and discharge; they are used by both men and women.
While men’s undergarments vary from boxer shorts to singlet or tank top and T-shirts, women’s undergarments are collectively called lingerie and they range from corselet, panties, brassiere, camisole, knickers, girdle, night gowns and a lot more.
Investigations revealed that the patronage for fairly used under wears by Nigerians is on the high side and becoming very popular among low income earners. They have actually given the used items different names: it is called “Gbogbo” in Delta State; people from the South- east and the South-west call it “Okirika”. It is also generally called “bend down select” in some markets.
Some markets across the country are well known for the sales of these fairly used items. They include the popular Yaba, Katangua and Aswani markets in Lagos, Nyanya and Wuse Markets in Abuja, New Benin Market in Benin City, Igbudu Market in Warri, Kasuwn Barci market in Kaduna and others.
In spite of the health hazards experts said are associated with the use of these garments people have continued to express mixed reactions over the issue. While some people said they would never buy the used undergarments, others said there is nothing wrong with them saying they could actually get more value for their money by buying the materials.
Stella Ubili, a student, sees nothing wrong in patronising these fairly used undergarments as they last longer than the new ones. “I prefer to buy the used underwear because of the quality. The new ones are of inferior quality and they get worn out easily. Also, the used under wears are always unique”, Stella told LEADERSHIP.
Justina Mark, living in Abuja, in an interview with LEADERSHIP, also shares the same view with Stella. “ Not all the under wears have been used; some of them are brand new. The goods were probably donated by charity organisations but ended up in the hands of businessmen”, she said.
“I buy these used undergarments every six months; they last longer than the new ones that cannot even last for a month.”
John Michael, a trader who sells fairly used undergarment said he gets patronage from both young girls and women. “I have been in this business for seven years, and I make a lot of profit from it. There is more profit in selling the used undergarment; when I buy a bale of these under wears for N150, 000, I make between N40, 000 to N50, 000 as profit”, he said.
Madam Chioma a trader in Port Harcourt who used to sell fairly used materials said she stopped selling it because she didn’t like the smell. “I stopped selling fairly used under wears in my shop because it became hazardous to my health; the smell from it is suffocating and does not allow me breath well. I had to stop selling them; I now sell the new ones”, she added
For Christian Osugi, a trader at the Nyanya Market in Abuja, her customers are all class of women. According to her, “Some rich women come all the way from town with their cars to buy from me; even some men come here to shop for their wives.”
“As you can see, most of the sellers of these second hand garments are men because the business is booming, the women also prefer to patronise the men.”
If it is a good business in Nigerians, as claimed by some people, it is not so in some other countries. Recently, fairly used under wears were banned in Zimbabwe. The minister of finance Tendai Biti had said that any self respecting husband should not allow his wife to wear such materials.
“If you are a husband and you see your wife buying underwear from the market, you would have failed. If I were your in-law, I would take my daughter and urge you to first put your house in order if you still want her back”, the minister had said.
Apart from the strong smell that comes out from these used goods, medical experts have kicked against the use of the materials. Ehimen, a microbiologist wants used undergarments banned as they are dangerous and could harbour harmful germs and diseases than can survive on fabrics for weeks.
“In my opinion, used undergarments should not be allowed into the country because sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, candidacies and even HIV to certain extend can be contacted from these fairly used undergarments if the person that previously used them had these diseases”, the expert said.
But Dr. John Dajwe, a community physician, warned against banning the materials because of the poor in the society-who cannot afford the new ones but instead said awareness, should be created on washing the materials with disinfectants and detergents before using them. “People should avoid testing such goods until they have been properly washed and disinfected and if possible ironed”, the medical doctor advised.