FEATURE-Trafficked into slavery: The dark side of Addis Ababa's growth

Tue May 16, 2017 8:00am GMT

By Tom Gardner

ADDIS ABABA, May 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - It was the promise of education in Addis Ababa that led 11- year-old Embet to take the fateful decision to leave home.

The young girl from Debat, a small town in Ethiopia's Amhara region, packed up and left for the capital in the company of her older neighbour, who said that her relatives there would welcome her into their home, pay her 200 Ethiopian birr ($8) a month to look after their young children, and send her to school.

"I thought I would enjoy Addis," said Embet, tearfully. "The woman told me fancy things about it. I thought everything would be okay."

But it wasn't. Despite the promises, Embet was never paid by her neighbour's relatives, and she was never sent to school. She slept on a mattress in the living room, was barely fed, and suffered abuse at the hands of her employers.

"I had to do everything," she said, including cleaning, cooking, and looking after the family's young children."

After two months living with the family, Embet fled - walking the streets of Addis Ababa until she was found and taken to the local police station.

Dembet's story is far from unusual: she is one of thousands of girls from all over Ethiopia who are trafficked to Addis Ababa to work in domestic service, some ending up in conditions comparable to slavery.

More than 400,000 Ethiopians are estimated to be trapped in slavery, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index by human rights group Walk Free Foundation.   Continued...

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