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Ethiopia: Child Abuse Caught on Mobile Phone Camera

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Citizen Media, Human Rights, Women & Gender

Ethiopian Facebook users have reacted to a mobile phone recorded YouTube video which shows a little girl constantly being abused by her mother. Shortly after the upload of the video, netizens on Facebook organized an online campaign [1] for justice by starting a Facebook group [2] called “Ethiopians Against Child Abuse”:

About

what happened to this little girl is an eye opening experience to all of us. Let's all stand up for other invisible children, and bring awareness to stop child abuse in ETHIOPIA. We are the next generation that can change our country let's start today

Description

As we closely monitor the case of the little girl, we also want to think about on how we can keep on making such great diffrence by very small gestures as we have just done, in these past two days. This community (Ethiopians Against Child Abuse), is a group dedicated to bringing awareness to child abuse in Ethiopia. We are inviting all and any individuals who already work in charity, people who are interested in charity work, and individuals who are ready to make a difference to join our movement.

The following video contains upsetting content:

This update [3] was posted on the group's wall:

BREAKING NEWS: we just got off the phone with Saifu Fantahun and we have learned that: 1. after the reporters left the house, the child got beat again, there are new marks on her body to prove that :( 2. The woman is not her mother, she is her grandmother. 3. The child is 4 years old now and they claim these happened 3 years ago, which is clearly a lie. Because the child was not 1 years old in the video. 4. both the mother and the girl who was recording the incident are both in custody. 4. The child is staying with her aunt for now. 5. The grandmother is claiming that she get's possessed by the devil sometimes and that is why she commits such act.

Another Facebook group is called “Stop child abuse In Ethiopia” [4]:

This is group is dedicated to those children who have been victims of physical assault,mental torture,sexual harassment,abduction, and early marriage. The immediate cause for its existence is the brutal physical torture committed on a little girl by her parents.
The group bears the responsibility to spread the information as wide as possible so as to make the issue the concern of responsible bodies.
Thus Let us try to change the situation by inviting our friends to this group, at least invite two of your friends. tnx

Tsedi Lemma [5], one of the most active Ethiopian social media activist wrote on her Facebook page:

Watch this video and weep. I have nothing to say….this has gutted my ability to speak as a mother and a woman. I didn't know this was the limit of my big mouth…i am just speechless!!

Another Ethiopian netizen, Muson Abdo [4], left a message on the ‘Stop child abuse In Ethiopia’ Facebook page:

Let's do the simplest possible effort to stop the brutal child right abuse in our country by echoing the message so that the issue will become the concern of our leaders. There are so many similar cases taking place in the country which hampers the natural and healthy growth of the coming generation. You are the one who can stop this disaster from the land. So don't overlook it, it is our responsibility too. We have the ability in our hands to halt it right now. Let say enough is enough. We have suffered/they have suffered/ our country suffered a lot from this epidemic. Speared it as wide as you can.

Ethiopians Against Child Abuse logo. Image source: Group's Facebook page.

Ethiopians Against Child Abuse logo. Image source: Group's Facebook page.

Dawit Nida [6] [am] said on Facebook:

ለዚህ ምን ይባላል!!! እያንዳንዱ ጥፊ በስለት የተወጋሁ ያህል ነው የተስማኝ:: የቀራጯ ሳቅ ደግሞ…..ውይ ያሰቃያል!!! STOP CHILD ABUSE!!

What can be said for this!! I felt pain in my body following each slap. How about the laughter of the recorder? …
A woman wearing a t-shirt with the message "በአዲሱ ሚሊኒየም የሕፃናት ደህንነት የሁላችን ኃላፊነት ነው" (In the new millennium, the safety of children is our common responsibility). Photo courtesy of ethiopianreporter.com.

A woman wearing a t-shirt with the message "በአዲሱ ሚሊኒየም የሕፃናት ደህንነት የሁላችን ኃላፊነት ነው" (In the new millennium, the safety of children is our common responsibility). Photo courtesy of ethiopianreporter.com.

One local radio station has offered a 10,000 Ethiopian Birr (about US$ 600) reward for any one with information leading to the arrest of the abusive “mother”. The girl laughing in the background who recorded the video has finally gave her side of the story.

A local online newsletter [7] [am] reports that the mother has now been identified.

Social media helped Ethiopian netizens discover the video and spread it among themselves. Facebook penetration [8] in Ethiopia is at 111.19%. The country ranks number 93 [9] in the ranking of Facebook statistics by country. According to Internet World Stats, as of 31 December, 2011 there were 622,122 Internet users in Ethiopia.

Recently, mobile phone video [10]footage showing an Ethiopian domestic worker being beaten and dragged by force into a car outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut, Lebanon caused angry reactions amongst Ethiopian netizens [11].