It looks like you are using an out of date browser.
Please update your browser in order to use this website.

News  › 
Blogs and Opinion Interviews from Ethiopia: risks after exploitation for women and girls

Interviews from Ethiopia: risks after exploitation for women and girls

To mark International Women’s Day, we have interviewed our team on the ground in Ethiopia to find out about the specific barriers that women and girls face to re-entering society after being exploited. Staff who work directly with survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking have shared their experiences with us.

In Ethiopia, our Lighthouse social worker Adyam, identified that girls as young as seven or eight years old are being targeted for early marriage and domestic servitude. They explained that poverty is a key risk for attracting exploitation, highlighting that families in desperation allow their daughters to marry early or send them to work hoping that they’ll have a better life, but in reality, they are tricked into a life of exploitation and abuse. Poverty can also be a determining factor of potential re-exploitation after children are reunited with their families, as parents can send them back to the city after exploitation in search of better-paid work.

In Ethiopia, societal stigma can also be a barrier after exploitation for a survivor. This was the case for Liya*, a young girl who was sexually abused but felt like she couldn’t tell anyone as she was fearful of stigma from her peers, and the social isolation that would come with that. She feared that if her community found out she’d be less likely to be selected as a bride in the future which would have social repercussions. So she was forced to stay quiet about her abuse until she was able to join one of our Lighthouses and gain support from our social workers.

Adyam explained how many young girls who are exploited also face severe sexual abuse which harms them mentally and physically. This trauma, usually in the form of PTSD, can cause significant barriers to reintegration into life after exploitation. This is why we use trauma-informed care in our Lighthouses. Unfortunately, this trauma can persist throughout the survivor’s life, even after they leave the Lighthouses and are reunited with their families, or assisted into independent living, illustrating a need for long-term mental health support.

From interviewing our program specialists in Ethiopia, we’ve been able to delve into the barriers that exist for survivors of modern slavery, especially those that exist for women and girls.

Learn more about trafficking in Ethiopia.

Learn more about what improvements are needed to help survivors overcome these barriers: How to reduce barriers for women and girls after exploitation

*Name changed to protect survivor’s identity.

young girl