In the hills near Addis Ababa, the protected eucalyptus forest presents a lucrative but risky enterprise, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The forest wood, often collected by women and young girls, can sell at market and greatly subsidize meager Ethiopian incomes. But if caught, the women are beat or raped by forest guards. No one, it seems, looks out for them:
“When the guards find us with wood, they beat us hard,” says Maselech [Mercho], who is now 10. “If we give them money, they leave us alone. If they get drunk, they try to rape us. We will scream for help, but when we scream in these forests, there is nobody to lend us a hand.”
But the organization Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association is expanding its operations in Ethiopia to teach girls and women new skills and livelihoods that will keep them out of the forests, away from danger, and also protect the environment.