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Human Trafficking
Street Children


The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                          

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, accounting for almost half of GDP, 60% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Ethiopia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Child Prostitution - in Addis Ababa

Nasir Al-Amin, October 01, 2006

[accessed 12 May 2011]

KEY FINDINGS OF THE STUDY - This study has identified types of child prostitution: working on the streets; working in small bars; working in local arki or alcohol houses; working in rented houses/beds and; working in rent places for chat/drugs use. Each location exposes the children to different risks and hazards.

In terms of background, all the interviewed children engaged in prostitution were girls, aged between 13 to 18 years.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Renata Coccaro, ECPAT International, 2007

[accessed 26 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Ethiopia. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 27 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The minimum legal age for consensual sex is 18, but authorities did not enforce this law. The law provides for three to 15 years’ imprisonment for conviction of sexual intercourse with a minor. The law provides for one year in prison and a fine of 10,000 birr ($346) for conviction of trafficking in indecent material displaying sexual intercourse by minors. Traffickers recruited girls as young as 11 to work in brothels. Young girls were trafficked from rural to urban areas and exploited as prostitutes in hotels, bars, resort towns, and rural truck stops.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 4 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - According to reports, the commercial sexual exploitation of children is increasing in Ethiopia. Girls as young as 11 years old have been reportedly recruited to work in brothels. Girls also work as hotel workers, barmaids, and prostitutes in resort towns and rural truck stops. Ethiopia is a source country for children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced domestic and commercial labor. Children are also trafficked internally from rural to urban areas for domestic service, prostitution, and forced labor.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)[DOC]

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 November 2006$FILE/G0645009.doc

[accessed 4 February 2011]

[73] The Committee welcomes the initiatives by the State party to combat sexual exploitation of children, including provisions for stricter penalties in the revised Criminal Code and the establishment of a national plan of action against sexual exploitation of children.  Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned that a high number, especially girls, are victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, and that the majority of cases remain in impunity.  Furthermore, the Committee is deeply concerned at the lack of information in the State party report on the extent of the problem and the number of children affected.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 26 January 2001

[accessed 4 February 2011]

[72] The Committee is deeply concerned at reports of sexual exploitation, prostitution, rape and other sexual abuse of children.

Child Prostitution in Ethiopia

[Last access date unavailable]

"I've been working on the street for 3 years because I had a conflict with my parents. My stepfather used to get drunk and beat us. Also, he used to favour my sister who is his real daughter. I met some girls on the street and I began to get close with them. I became friends with them, and we're still friends. Two of the older girls used to work and give us the money to live. All I used to think about was my family, but these people were good to me so I followed them. I was really hurt by my family experience and these people were nice to me.

ETHIOPIA: Child prostitution on the rise, report says

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN

[accessed 12 March 2015]

[accessed 1 April 2020]

The children often blamed lack of work, family deaths, poor education or unwanted pregnancy for driving them towards prostitution.  Many of the child prostitutes had been victims of serious sexual and physical abuse. Almost half the children said they had been raped prior to ending up on the streets and a third had fallen pregnant – with some resorting to back street abortions.  “The abortions were performed mainly by traditional medicine and in the street illegally,” said the report. “The dangers of this are numerous and include death.”

The reversal of a boy's HIV status is the road to new life. He's one of lucky ones

Jonathan Clayton in Addis Ababa, The Times, May 19, 2006

[accessed 7 September 2014]

There are estimated to be 50,000 street children in the centre of Addis Ababa. Some have lost their parents to Aids, some have run away from abusive relatives.  Others, particularly girls, have been abducted and brought to the city by Fagin-like older men.  “They are forced to work in workshops or as maids,” says Dagmawi Alemayeau, of the Forum on Street Children. “Often they are pushed into prostitution.” - htsccp

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – ETHIOPIA – CSEC is reported to have been a problem in Ethiopia for nearly four decades, and there has been a distinct increase since the 1990s. In particular, a study carried out by FSCE last year in Dire Dawa, a town in the eastern part of the country, revealed an increase in CSEC.  The reasons for the increase were a proliferation of night clubs in the area, a lack of recreational facilities, the proliferation of local and foreign pornographic newspapers and videos, a lack of child protection, loose law enforcement and a lack of awareness and hope for girls. According to another study carried out by FSCE last year in Dessie, which is one of the growing cities in the country, sexual harassment, child prostitution and the enticement of school girls for sexual reasons were also found to be prevalent in the city.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 12 May 2011]

[41] Criminal liability is incurred by a person selling or trafficking children under the Penal Code, and the right of children not to be subjected to exploitative practices is enshrined in the Constitution. Child pornography is addressed through the criminalization of a number of offences, excluding possession, relating to writings, images, posters or films which are obscene or grossly indecent. Children under the age of 9 incur no criminal responsibility.  Criminal liability may be incurred by a young person between the ages of 9 and 15 if they use others for the purpose of prostitution, or if they use child pornography against others for the purpose of gain.  If such an offence is committed, the court follows a special procedure for juvenile delinquents.  Children over 15 are tried under the ordinary provisions of the Penal Code for adults.  Sanctions for those between the ages of 9 and 15 include measures to ensure the best possible treatment of a young person and may include supervised education, reprimand, school or home arrest, or admission to a corrective institution.  Efforts are being made to give on-the-job training in dealing with juvenile offenders to most judges and prosecutors.

Education Key to Fighting Child Trafficking, says UNICEF

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Addis Ababa, 13 June 2003

[accessed 12 March 2015]

[accessed 1 April 2020]

Ljungqvist said that many children drop out of school and are forced into dangerous work or prostitution simply because they have no alternatives. The UN says that child labor is a result of a massive demand for cheap and malleable labor. Often work involves domestic duties, or it can be prostitution. The ILO, UNICEF and International Organization for Migration (IOM) aim to combat the danger of children being exploited through promoting education and ensuring better law enforcement.

Child prostitutes brought to SA

Mandy Rossouw, Beeld, Johannesburg, 2003-02-19

[accessed 12 May 2011]

Child prostitution is flourishing in South Africa and syndicates are bringing thousands of children from Asiatic and African countries into the country to sell their bodies. A report compiled by UN officials who investigated child abuse, child rape and prostitution in South Africa claims that children were abducted or lured with false promises from Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Eastern Europe.

ECPAT: Child Protection Units in Ethiopia

ECPAT International, "Child Protection Units in Ethiopia"

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 May 2011]

In 1997, a pilot project was started in four police stations around the capital: Addis Ababa, with one trained officer in each station dealing solely with cases involving children. The officers were employed by the police force but Forum assisted with refurbishing rooms and provided equipment. The officers at the unit do not wear police uniforms and are just as prepared to solve a child's problems through family and community intervention as through legal means. Importantly, they have begun to see the children as vulnerable human beings and not as the cause of trouble.

Ethiopian NGO Fights Child Prostitution

Ghion Hagos, Panafrican News Agency PANA, Addis Ababa, 6 April 2000

[accessed 12 May 2011]

Child prostitution and sexual exploitation in Ethiopia, as in other African and Third World countries, are rooted in extreme poverty. As a market element is involved in the supply and demand of child sex, Fassil pointed out that there are factors that aggravate the supply. Among these, he cited the economic condition in rural areas where poverty is much more rampant, rural to urban migration, early marriages that end up in divorce, loose social values in extended families in care and support of children, and family disintegration due to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and other problems.. Fassil stated that problems of child prostitution in Ethiopia are further aggravated by the negative attitude the general public and different sectors of society have towards these children.

Combating Child Prostitution: The Learning Point for Child Rights Organizations

Eshetu Alemu( ANPPCAN-U Chapter), Oct 31 2002

[accessed 12 May 2011]

Even though almost all countries of the world have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, putting into action of the provisions enshrined in the Convention has remained a wide loophole.

ANPPCAN- Ethiopia Chapter is running a project focusing on the Rehabilitation and Prevention of child prostitution in one of the districts in the capital- Addis Ababa. The specific activities include; community out-reach awareness and sensitization, family-based counseling to improve family tie, support for the beneficiary children for skills training, schooling, basic needs and start-up fund as it applies.

Analysis Of The Situation of Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region

Draft Consultancy Report Prepared as a component of the UNICEF – ESARO  & ANPPCAN Partnership Project on Sexual Exploitation and Children’s Rights, October, 2001, Nairobi, Kenya

[accessed 17 June 2011]

6.1 ETHIOPIA - Commitment: Among the countries that committed themselves to the development of national plan of action on CSEC by end of the year 2000.




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - ETHIOPIA [PDF]

ECPAT 2007

[accessed 12 May 2011]

Child prostitution is growing in both urban and rural areas of Ethiopia. In the capital city, Addis Ababa, the number of children victimised in commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) is increasing at an alarming rate. Numerous children migrate from rural areas in order to escape poverty, limited educational and job opportunities, drought, violence at home, early marriage, abusive relationships and exploitative labour, only to be become victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the urban centres.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 8 February 2020]

CHILDREN - According to international NGOs, child prostitution was a growing problem, particularly in urban areas. According to an NGO report, 60 percent of persons exploited in prostitution were between the ages of 16 and 25. Underage girls worked as hotel workers, barmaids, and prostitutes in resort towns and rural truck stops. Pervasive poverty, migration to urban centers, early marriage, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, and limited educational and job opportunities aggravated the sexual exploitation of children.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - NGOs reported that houses of prostitution recruited impoverished girls as young as age 11 and kept them uninformed of the risks of HIV/AIDS infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. A 2003 Family Health International Report indicated that customers particularly sought younger girls because customers believed they were free of sexually transmitted diseases.

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