Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Human Traffic: Ethiopia's Sex Trade

Something that constantly throws me off guard here in Ethiopia is the sex trade. I have been to Cuba where there is constant pressure to contract a “friend for a day”, or on Jarvis Street near College where women of the night walk around in shoes that defy gravity. But it’s nothing like here. The Ethiopian sex trade has found itself into every nook and cranny of society, and it’s basically accepted (maybe not the individual sex trade workers, but the whole concept of sex trade). And unlike Thailand, it’s not for foreigners and UN employees, but for everyone to partake in…even the poorest of the poor.

There is no need for an Addis red light district- one can find prostitutes in clusters on virtually every corner of the city, and of course in the bars. The thing that’s most amazing is the layers of the trade: transactional sex, commercial sex, a job in a local alcohol shop cum brothel, a financially supportive week-long ‘boyfriend’…there are so many ways the trade manifests itself.

Both CPAR and CAPAIDS work against the sex trade, the first in rural communities and the latter in Addis itself, and both of them focus on the implications of the sex trade on HIV/AIDS. This weekend I visited the commercial sex worker income generation activities of CAPAIDS partner, HAPCSO. The women I met come from rural areas seeking work, don’t find it, and then end up working as prostitutes in local alcohol shops. If they have sex without a condom, they make 10birr per trick (about $1!) and with a condom, only about 1birr. HAPCSO has given them training in sewing, leather work, and construction vehicle driving. Now these women are able to support themselves in getting out of the sex trade, and advocate on HIV/AIDS to those that still remain in the brothels. Often, the organization faces resistance as so many community leaders benefit from continued prostitution, but HAPCSO has been lucky to find a Kebele (city neighbourhood) with a supportive leadership and has begun projects there. The next step is to expand projects to reach more of the massive number of sex workers living in Addis.

Third World sex trade is featured in activism, literature and development academics, but I never expected it to find its way into my work, my neigbourhood or my friend group.


zim said...


what's the likelihood of seeing a change any time soon?

Anonymous said...

Trafficking would be come another cause of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh

Mohammad Khairul Alam
Executive Director
“Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation”
24/3 M. C. Roy Lane
Dhaka-1211, Bangladesh
Tel: 88028628908,

HIV/AIDS is a viral Sexual Transmission Diseases (STDs) which threatens life expectancy and, with it, development, social cohesion, political stability and food security. It imposes a devastating economic burden on countries. Behaviors that bring the highest risk of infection in Bangladesh are unprotected sex between sex workers and their clients, needle sharing and unprotected sex between men.

HIV incidence is rising faster in India that is the neighboring country of Bangladesh. In India rates of sexually transmitted infections and injecting drug use are also on the rise. Drug trafficking, along with the economic and psychological consequences of recent conflicts, is increasing the likelihood that HIV epidemics will emerge in this region.

The Human rights organizations in Bangladesh estimate that more than 20,000 women and children were trafficked annually for the purpose of prostitution, and more than 50,000 women and children were estimated to have been trafficked into India annually, most for the sex trade. The situation of Bangladesh like that trafficking of women or children for sexual exploiting is a high profitable business. The system of constitution & low almost every time fever of trafficking criminal as like Brazil. This criminal group thinks that some time this crime has risk but less, but it has great profit, no any possible of loss, invest is nothing size of the profit. Every trafficking event there is several people work behind the incident. It is a group works. They are more organize and committed. But it is harmful to the thousands of women and children exploited in slavery-like situation in the global sex industry.

Several social norms and immature behavior fueled of this disease to scatter rapidly. There are several social components link to develop this harmful situation. Poverty-behind to force it, Gender discrimination plays a vital role; Frustration & risk behavior help to sink humanity resulting infection. The link between poverty & gender discrimination are help to decline socio economic prosperity. This link creates several anti social poisonous issues also. Such as trafficking to prostitute, sell sex for earn or living, break down family norm to create frustration and driven drug point. We notice easily that Illiteracy is the main watchword of all circumstance. So it is not easy to remove it from the society, several programs & strategy are needed to gain sustainable position

Day by day it is mounting evidence that the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, is a significant problem in Every Country. Usually commercially sex trafficking is more than an issue of crime or migration; it is an issue of gender discrimination and the worse status of women. Around the world most trafficked people are adolescent girls, women and children of low socio-economic status, and the primary trafficking flows are from poor of developing countries to more wealthy countries.

Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation found, Trafficking is strong link HIV pandemic, if we see; globally of those HIV epidemic region, trafficking & sex exploitation is regular feature of there. Mostly trafficking victim are used commercial sex industry in other geographical area, they stay in there, as like in prison, they have no rights of speak out themselves. They are forced to sexual conduct with multiple partners, but they have no ability to insist upon condom use or safe sex and are vulnerable to HIV/STIs transmission. Some time they have to face physical attack, but they don’t get health care facilities.

Reference: UNICEF, World Bank, Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation

Anonymous said...

Damn, why didn't someone tell me about this sex trade thing when I was there.

Sheree said...

Hmmm... see I had a feeling that Ethiopia had a sex trade. I googled, and BAM! Here it is...

I have a new beautiful Ethiopian friend who wants to invite me to a trip in Ethiopia, but I think that it could have everything to do with selling me into slavery. I'm going to tell her the next time she brings it up, "I would love to go to Ethiopia with you, but I want to wait until I'm extremely wealthy with a team, an army, so that my safety is fifty fold in foreign countries." Because I don't have it yet, but I see myself as a mutli billionaire, and I don't play when it comes to my safety.

Thanks for listening.

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