The streets of Addis Abeba have found an intense
addition to their décor that makes them more gaudy
and colourful at night than they would normally be.
The oldest profession in the world is currently
flourishing beyond measure in our fair capital; it
makes the night life of Addis even more entertaining
Prostitution has always been part and parcel of the
city. For as long as I can remember, there have
always been areas where it was common to find
commercial sex workers, though it has never been a
case where the business has been so rampant as to
warrant social concern or state action. But it was
always relegated to those specific areas and did not
seep into the mainstream existence of the city and
That most certainly is not the case anymore.
The business of commercial sex workers has expanded
greatly, I mean exponentially. They are now found at
all hours of the evening and night, and in just
about any neighbourhood in town. Go to the
residential, commercial, industrial, educational,
and red light districts and they are all over the
place. Their price ranges vary and their locations
may be different, but the ladies are now available
in all shapes and sizes to please any taste, willing
to do just about anything, for any price.
There is not much to be said about a person's
decision to join the oldest profession in the world.
I do not think that it is the first choice in any
human being's life, given the degrading nature of
the profession. But the circumstance of life and the
positions that people find themselves in, may
warrant them becoming a member because life has
given them no other choices.
I, for one, prefer it to begging or receiving the
alms of another to live, but that of course is a
ridiculous hypothetical view that I will never have
to test in practice.
But there is a larger social issue that can be seen
with the expansion of the trade. Urban migration
continues without the infrastructure, social welfare
programmes, educational and health facilities to
support them; and there is a general hopelessness in
the public that has made women resort to selling
their bodies out in the open in one of the most
traditional and secretive societies in the world.
We are failing our citizens as a society.
We have not armed our women with the confidence,
education, or technical skills that would allow them
to create a source of income for themselves that has
nothing to do with putting their conscience in a
tussle. Their physical well being is at risk.
We have not created social programmes that would be
able to absorb the influx of urban migration and
unemployed hordes. There are no appropriate
transition systems in place that would allow these
people to find jobs, training courses, and adequate
housing that would allow them to integrate into the
society and become fully functional and self
The more prostitutes there are walking the streets,
the more serious that the situation is getting. A
few nights ago, I began noticing these young ladies
as far out as the CMC and Ayat residential areas.
That is a long way from the red light districts
across town, and probably a tough track to work, but
people still have to eat.
With sexually transmitted diseases rising, alcohol
consumption at ridiculous levels, people's
frustrations going through the roof, and an overall
decline in the standards of living, it is clear that
sex would sell. But though there may be some who
consider this good for business in certain areas and
for a few people, the larger repercussions that it
has to the society and its values will be
long-lasting and dire beyond measure.
We must begin paying attention to our society, it is
coming apart at the seams, there is no better way to
prove it than the beautiful flesh of Ethiopian women
parading the streets half naked, yelling to get the
attention of each passing car to see the rock and
the hard place that the entire city - and by
extension the entire country - is suffering from.
We must find a solution to the issue of commercial
sex workers; we have to take care of our fair
capital; we have to take care of her children; and
above all we have to take care of ourselves.