Plea to protect vulnerable girls

POLICY makers have been advised to formulate policies and set legal frameworks of protecting young women and female domestic workers from ending up in the worst forms of commercial sexual exploitation, which is in most cases due to mistreatment and harassment as they search for livelihoods.

Dr Elizabeth Shayo, a senior research officer at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), told the ‘Daily News’, that research findings show that lack of legal framework to protect them led them astray into wrong means of earning a living.

"Policy change must also train employers on how to treat the domestic workers, and value them if they are to bear positive results for the ones who attend houses and children are left in their hands," she said.

She explained that the research was conducted in Mwanza and Dar es Salaam where many girls are recruited for domestic work, where it found that out of 600 interviewed commercial sex workers, 58 of pursued the degrading mans of earning a livelihood.

Dr Shayo further explained that 28 per cent of the previous domestic workers who were now being exploited sexually, didn't pursue any formal education, and this denies them negotiating power or a raising a voice when their rights are infringed by their employers.

Opening a workshop on domestic work, sexual abuse and exploitation in Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, NIMR Director General Prof Yunus Mgaya, stressed on formulation of policies for saving domestic workers from becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and lead decent lives instead.

"The research shows that poverty forces girls and young women into internal human trafficking (within borders) for promised jobs. They are recruited with threats, coercion fraud or deception to end up in unfriendly working environments which later serves as a transit into sexual exploitation," he said.

He added that after landing domestic work, the young girls were mistreated, accommodated within the homes where they work, subjected to long working hours, are lowly paid or not paid at all.

This, he added, leads to some of them ending up being sexually abused within their working premises and are denied time to play or attend school.

Airing her views, Ms, Annabel Erulkar, Ethiopia's country Director for US based Population Council, said that there was a need for coming up with better ways of protecting young girls in sub-Sahara Africa for whom poverty and lack of education makes them vulnerable to diseases, sexual exploitation and risk HIV and Aids.

She said that there was a need of going upstream to address factors behind young poor girls' migration into urban areas and ending up in risky pursuits.

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