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Forum Discusses Child Prostitution In Ethiopia

Panafrican News Agency, 30 March 2000

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA)—The director of the International Labour Organisation in Ethiopia, Robert Ransom, said Thursday that commercial sexual exploitation of children and youths existed, describing the practice as one of the worst forms of child labour in the country.

As a first step, he said, fighting the problem required the Ethiopian government’s ratification of Convention 182 on the immediate prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of hazardous and exploitative work.

In addition, the government has to agree to the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour in Ethiopia by releasing major funds to combat poverty in the country, the major cause of child labour.

Ransom told a day-long forum on child labour that the fight against child labour should also be supported by the civil society, including trade unions, employers’ organisations, NGOs and religious leaders.

This should be done in order to prevent and discourage the use of children as labourers and workers, and to remove children from exploitative situations, he said.

Rodney Philips, the officer in charge of UNICEF in Ethiopia, said gender discrimination often placed the girl-child at the risk of sexual exploitation.

He called for adequate programmes to ensure protection as well as the physical recovery and social integration of the girl-child. He said that UNICEF was presently undertaking a seven-city rapid assessment of children working in the streets, including child prostitution, adding that researchers in the field were trying to pinpoint the nature and degree of the problem.

The findings of this assessment will refine a Street Children and Street Mothers Project to include interventions that will directly benefit that category of children working in the streets, he said.

Some 60 experts representing government and NGOs, donors and international organisations are attending the meeting.