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From the outside, it looks like the many bars and restaurants around town; you go in and get regular service, where a waitress or a waiter will take your order and provide you with the drinks or food you ordered.
However, even though everything seems familiar and in order, this particular “bar and restaurant” is just a front for another extremely profitable business. As you take a closer look, you observe a sort of strange expression on the faces of the people who are working there. A sort of intentness in the way they watch you, like they are waiting for you to say something.
What many people don’t know is that at the back of this establishment there are around six rooms with numbers on them; 14, 15… up to 18, and sometimes but not often, there is a 19. These numbers do not refer to the rooms as you might understandably think. They instead refer to the ages of the girls you will find in each room working as prostitutes.
Adult males flow to these kinds of places to have sex with very young girls, and it is not just regular sex. These men have an unhealthy and desperate appetite or need to be with such young girls who cater to their specific desires or mania.
It is not particularly shocking that such places exist in Ethiopia; Why not? It certainly seems to be the case in other countries as well, and some men will always be around to satisfy their immoral sexual fetishes. With the many underage girls available in the sex business that apparently is very profitable, for the owners but surprisingly for the girls as well in some cases, this trend will probably go on forever.
Places that include little girls’ favor on their ‘menu’ are well known by those class or portion of the society that is interested in it. And what about the law enforcement bodies? Are they also privy to this fact? There are always ways of keeping such things going, even though it is known that these places are detrimental to the decent and ethical being of societies. It seems though money will continuously have a louder voice than moral.
Yet another surprising fact is that many of the girls involved in this specific kind of prostitution have families who can afford to send them to schools and provide them with what they need. They have regular, decent families who try their utmost to raise their kids in a manner that makes them confident and smart. Then why is it that these young girls choose to sell their bodies for money?
One universal fact is that teenagers are very impressionable. They don’t usually think about the consequences of their actions. They should probably be protected from themselves at that period of their lives with loving care and understanding, but above all, by making them aware of the vagaries of the world.
When researching for my story, I discussed with many people who not only informed me of the existence of such places in the most unexpected areas of the city, but that they even forgo condoms.
Now that, for me, was quite shocking to hear. People with sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS don’t have stamps on their forehead that says so. You can’t tell a carrier by just looking.
These girls entertain at least two men per day: men they don’t know anything about, and assuredly the men don’t know anything about these girls too. Both parties put their lives on the line for a fleeting pleasure and monetary gain, respectively. It is mind boggling to me that, after all that has been said and done about HIV/AIDS, some people continue to be quite reckless and undervalue the lives of others as well as their own.
It very confusing and shocking to me, as I understand that most of the customers who frequent such places are people with good jobs and making a lot of money, and some even have families of their own. These people have some sort of mental capacity to acquire such good jobs, but for reasons that are beyond my ability to comprehend, they seem to make unbelievably stupid decisions to sleep with girls that are still children.
We celebrated March 8 last week, the day that is supposed to be the celebration for the contribution women make to civilization, to show their strength, achievements and equality. But sadly, we still observe women being considered as objects of only sexual desire by some chauvinistic men, putting a price tag on them; buying them and selling them over and over again.
These young girls have become objects. They may not know it yet, but what they do now will inevitably and invariably affect their lives in the future and in a very negative way at that.
We live in a world where sex is on display everywhere. It is in the films we watch, the books we read, the music we listen to, and let’s not forget the internet. We know that kids are even more exposed to these things than we were at their age. Who will save them? Is it going to be their parents, teachers, the community or the law?