As a visiting "resident" so to speak, I did not spend much of my time on Bole or in Concorde where the more expensive housing is (thus where more expensive prostitutes are)-but traveled to areas where everyday people live. Each night -around certain buildings on my commute home- or on my way out for the evening- I'd see young women-mostly in their teens or young 20's in the streets. They would either be where one less popular road ended -along a long popular road. Or standing near a spot known for prostitution. They sometimes would yes, be on street corners but mostly- they would be hanging out along popular road ways- not usually on corners of intersections like in the movies-laugh. Sometimes they were in skirts, but a lot of the time they are in jeans too. Sometimes they'd have make up on, sometimes not.
One would easily mistake them for a girl waiting for a taxi or a ride to pick them up -if they didn't know better. Before I understood- I'd make jokes about how all the girls get dressed up at night and head out to the clubs. My implied question was-with out a joke-that I couldn't believe all these people went to the clubs on weekdays and to work the next day-the clubs don't open until 11pm and they close around 4am. It was then that I was told- "They are going to work Kimberly- not to the clubs". Ahh-to be so naive... laugh-
So, now I wanted to know how much one cost- so, I asked several of my male friends over the next month or so, to ask one of the girls how much money for an evening. Since I never walked alone at night- I had many people to ask this of-laugh. I'm not sure why, but I just needed to know. To my dismay, none of them would be seen speaking with a sex worker, and of course I could not speak with them in Amharic, so I was not able to determine the exact amount it would cost.
So, I have to be happy with what I was told, and yes, I'm still learning Amharic-laugh. **someday, I'll learn on my own.. But until then... here's what I learned. The amounts were all over the place and seemed to depend mostly on where in the city we were, what social status, where they were to be "hired from", etc. etc... My friends would ask me almost as many questions as I asked them-when I tried to figure out costs. Here's what they would tell me that they've been told by their "friends":
- 5 usd would buy you a pretty girl -probably healthy- for the night. 10 usd would get you a really sweeeeett likely sexy and dressed well- girl-laugh.
- But you could "score" for a 1 usd if you really wanted to-but you'd be risking Aids etc. So that's the answer I got-
- I've also been told that some of the Concorde girls look for 50 usd or more from Foreigners and that their are "foreigner specific" prostitutes that shop for just the visitors or NGO workers.
Once, while staying at a one of the Gov't run Addis hotels one evening-we went to a club and saw some foreigners there. At the hotel in the morning- those same Foreigners were at the hotel eating breakfast or in the hallways saying "goodbye" to some Ethiopia women who were also at the clubs. I happen to know-that these men did not arrive to the club with the women as we arrived at the same time the men did. They were prostitutes. I know some of you are thinking they "hooked up"- but they did not- these women were at these clubs every time I went (and yes I do like to dance very much and went perhaps a little more often that I would have if I was here in America) and after a little while- you too learn to recognize the girls working the rooms.
Again- on speaking with my friends about this (Ethiopian friends) it was noted that Foreigners "NGO" workers are often interested Ethiopian Women- and it is not "uncommon" to see an Older White man pay a significant amount to spend the night with a Hot Ethiopian Prostitute. As one could guess, my mouth hit the floor.
Prostitution -at this time- seems a difficult reality- for women- in Ethiopia-and an emotionally difficult "occupation" for visiting women like myself to see in practice. For myself, growing up in a world where "sexual acts" are sacred and shared with only loved ones- it's difficult for me to see so many women participating and choosing in this very difficult "career choice". But with super high family disruption rates, low graduation rate (especially for women) and 50% (aprox) unemployment rate in the country - jobs are few and far between for the uneducated. I find it difficult to swallow-so many of these woman being forced into this work to support themselves and/or their families- simply or very possibly because they have siblings and their father or mother died.
As far as "outside" of Addis- Prostitution- was not as obvious to me as it was in Addis. Although it is there, I noticed it in Mekele, Harar, Awasa, and in Bahr Dahr but there were not many girls in the streets but rather in establishments, these women (minus in Mekele) seemed older than the ones in Addis.
As for men, I asked if there were Male prostitutes-and I'm sure they are out there- but no one could point me in the direction of where to find one nor could did they seem to know a male that considered his occupation as a sex worker -although they did jokingly say they know some of their friends they would "consider" of that nature-laugh.