Purpose – This study attempts to identify the rural‐urban migration patterns of children, young girls in particular, exposed to commercial sexual exploitation in urban and semi‐urban environments of Ethiopia. The study also concerns itself with gaining a more accurate understanding and insight into the socioeconomic forces behind the migration process, and young people's experiences in urban communities. In addition, central to the study was its aim to inform programme interventions on curbing the uncontrolled influx of children from the rural areas to urban centres and reducing their exposure to commercial sexual exploitation. Design/methodology/approach – The necessary body of field data was generated through the use of a triangulation of methods that comprised a survey of children aged 13‐18 exposed to commercial sexual exploitation, in‐depth interviews of 400 children across the three zone capitals and three sub‐cities of Addis Ababa, in addition to semi‐structured interviews with key people such as local government officials and religious and community leaders. Focus group discussions and case studies were also utilised. Findings – Migrants were most commonly uneducated girls between the ages of 16 and 20 who had been married before leaving their rural communities. Reasons for migration were escaping the oppression of the marital home, seeking independence and a better education, or leaving for fear of being forced into child wedlock. Six key “push” factors were famine and war, environmental and demographic factors, living conditions, the practice of early marriage, family discord and breakdown, and early school leaving. The main “pull” factor was the possibility of escaping poverty. In towns and cities, the realities of low wages, the difficulty of gaining paid employment and the failure of some employers to pay for work all contributed to the movement of migrating children into commercial sexual exploitation. Recommendations include the improvement of rural living conditions through greater health and education provision, the introduction of family planning services, opportunities for off‐farm activities for women and girls, the abolition of child marriage, the provision of child‐focused rehabilitation services and greater collaboration between government and NGO rehabilitation interventions and community based organisations. Originality/value – Information regarding the migration patterns of children can help governmental agencies and NGOs to target key areas. Identifying the “push” and “pull” factors behind child migration is the first step in its prevention, as vulnerable children migrating alone to large towns and cities are targets for commercial sexual exploitation. Useful recommendations relating to the prevention of child migration through the improvement of rural conditions and the need for rehabilitation services for sexually exploited children are made.
Journal of Children's Services – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 30, 2012
Keywords: Migration; Sexual exploitation; Push factors; Pull factors; Child abuse; Curbing and remedial measures; Ethiopia; Children; Communities; Rural regions
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