Women looking for sex Hailu

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By Emeline Wuilbercq. But that hope was short-lived. Selam has spent the past three years in the sex trade in the northern city of Gondar, where officials and campaigners estimate hundreds of girls are victims of sexual exploitation and fear s are rising due to the coronavirus pandemic. Having dropped out of school at 11 and unable to afford to return home, Selam said she saw no way out of prostitution, which is permitted in Ethiopia and widespread across the nation.

Interviews with a dozen sex workers - five of whom were underage - social workers, activists and officials in the Amhara region found efforts to stop child sexual exploitation were falling short or had been interrupted by the impact of COVID Outreach efforts and police raids to find children trapped in the sex trade stopped in April in some parts of Amhara as authorities focused on enforcing a COVID state of emergency. The ensuing rise in sexual exploitation of children has led to calls for more federal government funds from local officials.

Kibri Hailu Abay, director of child rights at the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth, said the government was helping regional authorities to seek funding from local communities, the private sector and civil society to support vulnerable children. Campaigners said some girls were pushed by rural families to find jobs in cities where sex work was often the only viable source of income. Getachew said many girls who had been working as waitresses or maids were laid off after COVID struck, and had turned to sex work instead of heading home to their villages empty-handed.

The pandemic has pushed more families globally into poverty, and children in poorer communities are at much greater risk of child labour and early marriage, the United Nations has said. The World Bank has warned that COVID may push up to million people into extreme poverty by the end of , wiping out more than three years of progress in poverty reduction. In Gondar and nearby Metema - a town which borders Sudan - activists and authorities feared underage prostitution was going under the radar and tough to stop as many girls lied about their age, were afraid to seek help, and lacked trust in officials.

Almaz Lakew, a police commander in Gondar, said girls in the sex trade tended to hide or run away from the authorities to avoid being sent home to their families with nothing. At night in Gondar, a mostly Christian city, many sex workers can be found working in bars or restaurants - ostensibly as waitresses - with the owners taking a cut of their earnings. Women and girls who are not approached often resort to sleeping rough. Some of them sport short skirts, others cover their head with a scarf commonly worn by Ethiopians attending church.

Several sex workers - including underage girls - said they felt abandoned by their community and neglected by officials. Others think we are good for nothing. While prostitution is permitted, having sex with a girl under the age of 18 is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail, with tougher sentences possible if the girl is under Several sex workers said reporting abuse or violence was a waste of time as authorities tended to trust the buyers.

In Metema, the trade is propped up by truck drivers, farm workers and Sudanese men crossing the border to drink and party. Some sex workers said the job was a short-term solution in order to make enough money to pay smugglers to send them abroad. Every year, tens of thousands of Ethiopians are estimated to migrate - across Africa, to the Gulf and Europe - in search of better-paid work.

Many end up sex trafficked or falling victim of forced labour - be it as maids or trapped on building sites. Officials in the region said they had tried to stop underage prostitution before the pandemic struck by informing bar and restaurant owners that it was illegal to hire children to work. One bar owner said she felt like a mother to her eight staff - some of whom are underage - and that she had protected them.

She said she took a cut of 30 birr 80 cents whenever one of the women or girls secured a client. Ethiopia has at least 99, confirmed COVID cases - with about 1, deaths - the latest health ministry data shows. Social workers in Metema and Gondar said they tried to refer girls in the sex trade for counselling, family planning and HIV testing - which are provided by NGOs - but that fear, shame and a lack of awareness stopped many girls accessing such services.

Researchers and campaigners fear that school closures, job losses and economic slowdown caused by coronavirus could drive more children nationwide to swap the countryside for cities, where they are more at risk of labour or sexual exploitation. Netsanet said more women and girls in the sex trade had sought help in recent months but her office had limited budget to support vulnerable communities, from sex workers to street children, and called on the federal government for more funding. Yet it may prove too little too late for year-old Tsion.

Despite one failed migration attempt - Tsion recalled seeing corpses en route to Libya - the teenager considered the sex trade as the only way to realise her dream of making it abroad. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news. By Emeline Wuilbercq 9 Min Read.

Women looking for sex Hailu

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