Torture in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2018                          

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]

Description: Description: Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked primarily for the purposes of forced labor and, to a lesser extent, for commercial sexual exploitation. Rural Ethiopian children are trafficked for domestic servitude and, less frequently, for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in agriculture, traditional weaving, gold mining, street vending, and begging. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009 [full country report]


CAUTION:  The following links 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 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 to see which aspect(s) of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  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.


The bride was 7 - In the heart of Ethiopia, child marriage takes a brutal toll

Paul Salopek, Tribune foreign correspondent, Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2004

[accessed 17 April 2012]

Tihun Nebiyu the goat herder doesn't want to marry. She is adamant about this. But in her village nobody heeds the opinions of headstrong little girls.  That's why she's kneeling in the filigreed shade of her favorite thorn tree, dropping beetles down her dress. Magic beetles.

"It doesn't work!" Tihun says, disgusted. She heaves an exaggerated sigh and squints out across the yellow-grass hills surrounding her world: "I will just have to run."  But this is childish bluster. Tihun's short legs can't carry her away fast enough from the death of her childhood. Her wedding is five days away. And she is 7 years old.

But child marriage ruins lives in other ways too. Often treated like indentured servants, young brides are subject to beatings by their grown husbands and in-laws. And thousands of girls end up trapped in the sex trade, whether through organized child bride trafficking rings in countries such as China or, in Africa, by simply drifting from abusive marriages into street prostitution, social workers say.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 7   Civil Liberties: 6   Status: Not Free

2018 Edition

[accessed 20 March 2019]


Trafficking convictions have increased in recent years, though the U.S. government continues to urge its Ethiopian counterparts to more aggressively pursue trafficking cases. Many children continue to work in dangerous sectors and lack access to basic education and services.

2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

accessed 22 March 2019]

accessed 26 June 2019]


Although a ban on labor migration to the Gulf States remained in effect, in February 2016 the government enacted the Revised Overseas Employment Proclamation (Proclamation No. 923/20 16), a major precondition for lifting the existing labor migration ban. Women who migrated for work were vulnerable to forced labor overseas. Men and boys migrated to the Gulf States and other African nations, sometimes resulting in forced labor. Adults and children, often under coercion, engaged in street vending, begging, traditional weaving of hand-woven textiles, or agricultural work. Children also worked in forced domestic labor. Situations of debt bondage also occurred in traditional weaving, pottery making, cattle herding, and other agricultural activities, mostly in rural areas.


Child labor remained a serious problem and significant numbers of children worked in prohibited, dangerous work sectors, particularly construction.

School enrollment was low, particularly in rural areas. To reinforce the importance of attending school, joint NGO, government, and community-based awareness efforts targeted communities where children were heavily engaged in agricultural work. The government invested in modernizing agricultural practices and constructing schools to combat the problem of child labor in agricultural sectors.

In both rural and urban areas, children often began working at young ages. Child labor was particularly pervasive in subsistence agricultural production, traditional weaving, fishing, and domestic work. A growing number of children worked in construction. Children in rural areas, especially boys, engaged in activities such as cattle herding, petty trading, plowing, harvesting, and weeding, while girls collected firewood and fetched water. Children worked in the production of gold. In small-scale gold mining, they dug mining pits and carried heavy loads of water. Children in urban areas, including orphans, worked in domestic service, often working long hours, which prevented many from attending school regularly. Children also worked in manufacturing, shining shoes, making clothes, parking, public transport, petty trading, as porters, and directing customers to taxis. Some children worked long hours in dangerous environments for little or no wages and without occupational safety protection. Child laborers often faced abuse at the hands of their employers, such as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Girls from impoverished rural areas were exploited in domestic servitude and commercial sex within the country.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 17 April 2019]

[page 410]

Children are trafficked from rural areas to Addis Ababa and to other regions of the country for forced labor in the weaving industry and in domestic work. (6; 17; 16) Children also reportedly harvest and sell khat, a stimulant to which they may become addicted due to bodily contact with the plants’ excretions during harvest. (3) Families continue to play a role in financing and coercing their children to go abroad or to urban areas to look for work. (18; 17) Children who begin as voluntary migrants may be forced into prostitution or become victims of forced labor. (3)

Hundreds of thousands of children forced to work in Ethiopia

EITB 24 News – Euskadi, Spain – 28 September 2006

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 7 September 2014]

Some of the trafficked children are employed as domestic servants and kept within Ethiopia but others are sent abroad, sometimes in harsh and dangerous conditions. Some lucky children escape and find refuge in shelters.

Fifteen-year-old 'Dina', whose name has also been changed, says she was just eight when she was trafficked from her home in northern Ethiopia. 'Dina' spent the next seven years in forced labour in various homes. She says found herself too afraid to escape because as time went by she couldn't remember where she came from and since she never received a salary, she had no money to go anywhere.

'Dina' says she worked seven days a week cooking, cleaning and taking care of children, often for families who had children her own age. Finally, after being kicked out by her employer, she managed to contact police who sent her to OPRIFS in Addis Ababa.

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]

Ethiopia, ravaged by Aids and grinding poverty, has a population of 75 million, which is growing at a rate of two million a year. More than half live on less than 50p a day. There are now about five million orphans, and the number is increasing by the day.

Organisations such as Unicef, the United Nations’ children’s agency, are concerned that the Ethiopian Government does not have the staff or resources to monitor orphanages to ensure that children are cared for and safe from abuse.  They also suspect that many children are being trafficked to work in weaving factories or as servants, and some are being smuggled out of the country.  One child protection specialist says: “We have heard stories of children being taken by ‘brothers’ and ‘uncles’ to neighbouring countries. Once there, they could be easily transferred. It is a huge problem.” - htsccp

WANTED: the right to refuse

Maggie Black, Issue 337, New Internationalist, August 2001

[accessed 4 February 2011]

Take a look at article one of the Supplementary Convention on Slavery and you will see as one definition: ‘Any practice whereby a woman, without the right to refuse, is given in marriage in payment of a consideration in money or in kind ...’

At the beginning of the 21st century being a child wife, even if it’s illegal, puts you in a limbo. You are invisible as either child or woman, because you have been married. What a man does to you once, if you are underage and single, is statutory rape. What he does to you night after night, if you are underage and married, is fine. In rural Ethiopia, no-one goes to help a girl of 10 when they hear her screaming out at night. It’s something she must learn to bear. After all, she is a wife.

ACLU Defends Ethiopian Woman Kept in Forced Labor in New Jersey

The American Civil Liberties Union ACLU, December 21, 2004

[accessed 7 September 2014]

According to the ACLU lawsuit, Chere was kept under conditions of involuntary servitude for almost one and a half years-working for as much as 100 hours per week for no pay. Chere's responsibilities included serving as the primary caretaker for the couple's toddler, cooking for the family, cleaning and maintaining the home, doing the family's laundry and cleaning the exterior of the house and driveway. She was not given any food other than leftovers and bread and water and was forced to sleep on the floor of the child's bedroom.

Ethiopia: Centre for Helping Victims of Trafficking Opens in Addis Ababa

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Addis Ababa, 29 June 2004

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

[accessed 5 September 2011]

The first-ever centre to help victims of trafficking opened in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday. It will offer support to the estimated 40,000 women and girls believed to be victims of trafficking, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

"The victims have suffered quite a lot of abuse," said Rakeb, the centre's programme coordinator. "Often when they return they are traumatised, depressed, and some have mental-health problems and need someplace to stay. Some of those who are deported have not even had time to gather their possessions and don't have anything, so they need some reintegration assistance."

IOM press briefing notes 23 Apr 2004: Haiti, Ethiopia, Zambia

Spokesperson: Jean-Philippe Chauzy, International Organization for Migration IOM, 23 Apr 2004

[accessed 13 June 2013]

The overall objective of this US-funded project is to support the Ethiopian Government's efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the prevention of human trafficking within and/or from Ethiopia. It has the aim of sensitizing students in grades 7-10 on pertinent issues regarding trafficking and HIV/AIDS while encouraging them to pursue their education, both in schools and within the informal sector.

Five hundred thousand exercise books and ten thousand T-shirts containing simplified messages illustrated by cartoons warning students of the risks of migrating for work using illegal channels, unprotected sex and dropping out of school were distributed in the 185 schools since September 2003.

ETHIOPIA: Education key to fighting child trafficking, says UNICEF

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

[accessed 9 March 2015]

The IOM says that illegal traffickers who prey on women could make up to 7,000 Ethiopian Birr (more than US $800) for each victim they send overseas. The IOM say women aged between 18 and 25 are targeted by traffickers at colleges and in poor districts in towns and cities.

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]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - 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.  Although there were no reports of international trafficking of Ethiopian children in 2004, there have been reports in the past that networks of persons working in tourism and trade have recruited young Ethiopian girls for overseas work and provided them with counterfeit work permits, birth certificates, and travel documents.

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 4 February 2011]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONSEthiopia was a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Young Ethiopian women were trafficked to Djibouti and the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain for involuntary domestic labor. A small percentage were trafficked for sexual exploitation to Europe via Lebanon. Small numbers of men were trafficked to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states for exploitation as low-skilled laborers. Both children and adults were trafficked internally from rural to urban areas for domestic labor and, to a lesser extent, for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, such as street vending. NGOs estimated that international trafficking annually involved between 20 and 25 thousand victims.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported in 2004that trafficking was "increasing at an alarming rate." A 2003 study by a foreign government on the problem of internal trafficking of women and children confirmed that the problem was pervasive. The overwhelming majority of respondents confirmed that traffickers, typically unorganized petty criminals, lured women and children from rural areas to Addis Ababa and other urban centers with false promises of employment. Of the 459 respondents, 46 percent were illiterate and 49 percent had completed no more than an eighth-grade education. Upon arrival at their new destinations, 54 percent worked as domestic servants, but that number dropped to 9 percent as the trafficked women and children took jobs in bars, became prostitutes, or begged on the street.

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]

[8] The Committee notes that some progress has been made by the State party in the effort to bring domestic laws into compliance with the Convention, e.g. by criminalizing harmful traditional practices and child trafficking in the revised Criminal Code of 2004.  However, the Committee remains concerned at the lack of a systematic legislative review and adoption of a comprehensive Children’s Code.  The Committee regrets that the Convention has not yet been published in the Official Gazette as previously recommended.

[71] The Committee is deeply concerned at the prevalence of child labour among young children including as young as 5 and that the State party has not taken comprehensive measures to prevent and combat this large-scale economic exploitation of children.

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch – Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 4 February 2011]

U.S. Library of Congress - Country Study

Library of Congress Call Number DT373 .E83 1993

[accessed 4 June 2017]

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Torture in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Ethiopia]  [other countries]