XIX International AIDS Conference

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WEPE556 - Poster Exhibition


The impact of law on the health and human rights of female sex workers in three sites in Ethiopia

C. Overs1, B. Alemayehu2

1Monash University, Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, Melbourne, Australia, 2Timret Le Hiwot Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Background: An adapted version of Rapid Policy Assessment and Response (RPAR) was used to identify the legal framework around sex work in Ethiopia and assess its impact on health and human rights of female sex workers in three sites.(Addis Ababa Shashamene and Bahir Dar).
Methods: Methods included an online literature review, verification of legal research by local lawyer; small group interviews and key informant interviews.
Results: The criminal law of Ethiopia prohibits soliciting for commercial sex, operating commercial sex venues, profiting from sex work, procuring, trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors. However it is unenforced so commercial sex involving both adults and minors takes place relatively openly. As a result there are favorable conditions for adult sex workers, which will be described. Protection for minors appears inadequate.
Conclusions: Sex workers human rights, economic opportunities and ability to attain the highest possible standard of health are primarily impended in Ethiopia, not by criminal law, but by a broader legal framework that fails to recognise their legal personhood before the law. This is especially so of sex workers who move away from their place of origin. The steady flow of women into the sex trade and subsequent oversupply of commercial sex is driven by macro economic conditions. Current micro initiatives aiming to reduce those numbers by rehabilitating sex workers do not appear to have a significant impact.


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