ADDIS ABABA, 24 Oct
2002 (IRIN) - Mass unemployment in Ethiopia is leading to an alarming rise in
the illegal trafficking of women, according to the Ministry of Labour and
It said women were being forced to leave the country in search of work, and often became victims of cruel employers.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Hassen Abdella said the government would have to overhaul the legal overseas employment agencies with the aim of rendering them capable of protecting womenís rights.
"Today, many Ethiopian women who have migrated to the Middle East illicitly in search of employment are deprived of their human rights and freedoms," he told a conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
He went on to say that the women were often "physically and psychologically tortured and murdered", describing the situation as "increasingly alarming".
"Migration has become grave due to mass private unemployment and underemployment in many developing countries, and has given way to a fertile field of recruitment to unscrupulous employers and private agents," Hassen added.
"We need to strengthen our management capacity of migrant workers, which could bring about orderly managed migration and could prevent trafficking," the minister stressed.
Dr Meera Sethi, the head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ethiopia, called on the government to enact stronger legislation. She told IRIN that illegal traffickers who preyed on women could make up to 7,000 Ethiopian birr (over US $800) for each person they sent overseas.
"IOMís recent trafficking survey has demonstrated both extreme vulnerability of female Ethiopians to trafficking and the need for labour migration to be more strongly addressed by the governments of sending, transit and receiving countries, and other concerned bodies," Dr Sethi added.
ETHIOPIA: Focus on trafficking in women