‘People see us as trash’: pandemic locks Ethiopian girls into ...

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‘People see us as trash’: pandemic locks Ethiopian girls into sex work

Desperate minors see no other way, but also risk being sex trafficked or trapped into forced labour

Emeline Wuilbercq

When Selam fled her village at the age of 11 to avoid being wed to a much older man in northern Ethiopia, she was relieved and excited to forge a future on her own terms. 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 numbers 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...

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