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S cents to clients who often abuse them. So I decided to do it to sustain myself," said Tracy Modewa, 15 not her real name. All of the names of the girls in this story have been changed to protect their identities. Modewa is one of a dozen teenage girls, scrawny and bruised, huddled around the glow of a candle in a cramped 10 -foot by foot concrete room meant to store a generator in downtown Monrovia. They take turns sleeping on a single dingy mattress during the day before heading to the streets to work at night.
Prostitution by young teenage girls is in part fallout from 14 years of civil war, which had spawned numbers of orphans and street children by its official end in Girls sell sex for money, food and school fees, the U. Observers say while aid groups focus their work on young male ex-combatants, who committed atrocities across the country and used rape as a weapon, little attention is paid to the female victims of the war, such as child sex workers sleeping with several men a night to be able to eat and clothe themselves.
Gaunt and hollow-eyed, Mimi Tebro not her real name , 16, who also shares the generator room, said she has been supporting herself since , the last year of war in Liberia, when both her parents were killed. Prostitution is illegal in Liberia. Her little boy recently died, she said. Four in five Liberians live below the U. These girls also face violent abuse from their clients, ranging from beatings to rape in a country where 66 percent of girls between the ages of 10 and 19 have been raped, according to the U.
One of the girls showed a deep wound in her foot she suffered when a client refused to pay and pushed her out of his car. Another said she received a crack on the head after a client struck her with a rock. There is no formal police programme to stop child prostitution but Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently charged police with monitoring areas where teenage prostitutes are known to work.
However, some of the girls say that the police are also abusive — sleeping with them and seizing and extorting money from them. Girls have alleged that some peacekeepers also pay for sex with underage girls. He said an investigation on the allegations would be launched soon. Human rights groups operating in Liberia say many of the children involved would like to get out of prostitution if there was a government programme to help them find an alternative way to support themselves.