20 August 2004

Ethiopia: Child Prostitution `Rising Problem With No Due Attention'

Addis Ababa — Around 60 percent of the child prostitutes in Addis are said to be between the age of 13 And 15.

Child prostitution has been found to be on the rise in Ethiopia, particularly in Addis Ababa getting "no due attention" by the concerned bodies, a research conducted in Addis Ababa revealed.

The research, aimed at assessing in general the cause and effect of child prostitution was conducted in four selected sites of Addis Ababa by Save the Children Denmark in collaboration with Addis Ababa City Administration and other partners working on child rights in the country.

Cherkos, Piazza, Merkato and Kazanchis were the four selected sites where the research was conducted. These four sites are known to have a rising number of prostitution activities; despite this fact, no due attention has been given by the government or concerned bodies.

Dr. Tibebu Bogale, Consultant and head of the research team said that child prostitution needs special attention so that it could be minimized nationally.

He revealed that the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in confronting child related issues, and rehabilitation works are very small compared to the existing problem. "There is even less information on interventions and strategies applied in the area of child labor and child prostitution. In developing countries like Ethiopia where the worst forms of child labor such as child prostitution are widely developed, this concern is more relevant," Tibebu said.

The result of the National Child Labor Survey shows that the total children population of the country in the age group of 5-17 was over 18 million. Out of this, over 9 million i.e. 52.1%, are engaged in productive activities.

The major causes which push children to get involved in prostitution among others were stated as poverty, death of one or both parents, need to become economically independent and lack of educational opportunities.

The research team however declined to give out the exact number of child prostitutes in Addis or other parts of Ethiopia. Around 60% of the child prostitutes in Addis are said to be between the age of 13 and 15.

"Ethiopian law regarding child prostitution is clear and on the whole ahead of its time. But, with the law not being enforced, child prostitution has been an open secret shunned by the law, culture and religion but not exposed and stopped when it counts,"

Dr. Tibebu added, "The emergence of AIDS has not impeded the traffic largely due to lack of awareness about it among the children being recruited."

Creating awareness among children and family, giving training about child right to law enforcers, judges, police, media professionals, increasing girls enrolment in school and HIV/AIDS education for children were recommended as ways to tackle the problem at hand.

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