What is The Real Definition of ‘Ashawo’?

A few months ago, I was in a cab at a car park on my way back from a family friend’s wedding. The driver and one of the passengers (a woman ) in the cab got into an argument and the next thing that came out of the driver’s mouth was ‘ashawo!’…ahan! Still, In shock, I had to pause and take a good look at the lady to try and understand what was going on. This was a Muslim lady, probably in her late 20’s or early 30’s fully dressed and covered with her hijab (though I’m not saying dressing modest is what defines a person or the person’s character). I kept trying to understand the relationship between the argument about Money and the driver referring to her as a prostitute.j

I wasn’t so surprised because I have witnessed several instances. I and a friend have been victims of such insult.

We were walking on the passenger’s side of the road and a driver almost hit us while trying to park and drop off a passenger. All my friend did was tell the driver to be more careful next time and of course, the driver yelled ‘ashawo!’ Not surprised at his response, we just walked away.

Which brings me to the question; What is the real definition of an ashawo?

Ashawo is a term used in Nigeria to refer to prostitutes or sex workers; who engage in sexual activities in exchange for money ( mostly women).

In today’s Nigerian society, the term has been misconstrued and is used to refer to women generally. Now it’s more like if you have breasts and yansh, you have automatically become a prostitute.

Another question is; why do they do this?

The illiterate’s in our country are frustrated and myopic, shallow, and have spent most of their lives earning less than the minimum wage.

Their Ignorant way of thinking leads them to assume and conclude that as far as you are a young, good-looking, well-dressed lady, there must be a man somewhere, sleeping with you and giving you money to look the way you look. Which makes no sense and is not enough to label a well-dressed woman or any woman as a prostitute. Some young ladies have jobs, work hard, have businesses established to take care of themselves.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a society where most men see women as inferior. This is something we Nigerians have tolerated and made men feel highly of themselves, enough that they don’t regard and respect the women of our country. For being a woman =Ashawo, You argue with a man = Ashawo, you go to a store to buy something, the price is too high, you decide to walk away = Ashawo. As a woman, you can not fully express your independence without being referred to as a prostitute.

It is sad, ridiculous, and annoying because women are much more than sex objects.

You must not have a man somewhere to be successful or to look good.

To think those same men do not refer to their fellow men as prostitutes during argument forgetting that men can also be prostitutes because they see themselves as superiors who can do no wrong. Meanwhile, some of them are Lazy, can’t take care of themselves or their families.

Nigeria is a fatherland country and till we change that, men will always feel superior. Outside of Nigeria, it is different, women are respected, women have appreciated

women have freedom of choice, freedom of speech. They highly regard their woman to extent of tagging their countries as the “Motherland”.

Women come first, as the psychology transferred for their culture to the classrooms they teach kids how to respect women and as they say “train up a child in he should grow and when he’s told he won’t depart from it.” It goes beyond our men just being feisty and being illiterate. It’s the culture of our country.

We need to wake up and get rid of certain ignorance.

Yours Truly,


What do you think?

Written by Desewa Martins

Writer. Blogger. Child of God. Foodie. A lover of everything beautiful who is driven by the passion to tell the stories and journey of the human lives through personal experiences.

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