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By Meron Tekleberhan. Addis Ababa, January 23, Ezega. After Hours I gave women in the sex industry a unique opportunity to describe their lives in their own words. Most however clearly lacked the direction or determination to actually carry out their plans to leave the sex trade industry. In detailing the life changing decisions that these women took, journalist Ermias Seyoum allows a glimpse to the different paths that almost inevitably led them to the sex trade industry.
In spite of the range of different circumstances that the women cited as the reason behind where they found themselves, a common thread seemed to unite most. Almost all claimed that they were active sex workers well before the age of eighteen, many having become sexually active in their early teen or pre-teen years.
Most of the responses he received were from women in the sex industry who were grateful for his representation according to Ermias. Through such communication he was able to meet the women who were desperate to change their lives and in different ways big and small, and he was able to single handedly help thirty four to realize their dreams. The lives of poverty that usually precede lives of prostitution set the scene for the lives as sex workers.
Many of the women in After Hours II were brought to Addis Ababa by aunts or uncles with promises of education and a better life that only resulted in lives of servitude. Most accepted prostitution as a way of life because they entered into it at very ages and all were taken advantage of by a greedy system ready to exploit their naivety. In all the tales of woe that record lives of bitter struggle were rape is a common theme and violence taken for granted none of the sex workers in After Hours II ever give an inclination of any awareness of laws that prohibit child prostitution.
There seems to be no fear associated with children under the age of eighteen joining the ranks of professionals in the sex trade, nor do the child prostitutes seem aware of attempts to protect them or punish their customers. For all that, there seems to be no perception of illegality with young children entering the sex trade, and the practice is also very well hidden or ignored by the rest of the society.