A GATEWAY TO CITY LIFE: THE LIVES OF YOUNG DOMESTICWORKERS IN ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
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- Institutt for geografi 
Child and young domestic workers have been included in social science research in recent years. Most of this research, however, is one sided in which abuses and exploitations are considered as the only features of the lives of these girls. Moreover, domestic workers are considered as mere victims and their agency is overlooked. In these researches employers are considered as abusive and exploitative without discrimination. This study looks into the lives of young domestic workers in the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, with the aim of exploring both the positive and negative sides of the girls’ life. In this study, both benefits and challenges in the domestic work sector and in the same fashion agency and victimizations of the girls are investigated. The study, which is done based on the life experiences of thirty-five young domestic workers, drawn its data from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data that were used in the study were collected from the domestic workers (through in-depth interview), brokers (focus group discussion) and employers (semi-structured interview). Because of its qualitative nature, the data were analyzed using descriptive methods. Based on the analyses, all the girls had been working for both good and bad employers. Sexual, physical and verbal abuses; economic exploitation and different challenges in their lives are identified. However, compared to their lives in their home villages, the girls also have derived benefits because of their involvement in the sector. These benefits include: better food and sleeping facilities, access to education, better economic capacity, ability to supporttheir families, escape from forced marriages, and have the opportunity of having brighter future. Moreover, all the girls asserted that live-in domestic work is the best, safest and most secured place of work compared to other unskilled labor works in the capital. These girls were victims of the above mentioned abuses and exploitations. However, they also possessed some sort of power and demonstrated their capability in different ways such as in their decision to migrate, negotiation and control over their salary, their agency in finding jobs,their reaction at times of abuse and exploitation and the positive changes that are brought into the sector due to their agency. On the other hand, it is also discovered that the girls’agency was sometimes constrained by the existing social structures, low level of familiarity to the city life, their subordinate relation with employers and some other factors. Based on the investigation of the domestic work sector, this study concludes that the young domestic workers derive a number of benefits side by side to the tremendous challenges they are encountered to. As a result, despite the existence of challenges, girls and young women will continue joining the sector because of the several push factors and the pull factor in the city life and in particular in the domestic work sector.