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Hurt and abused children in Ethiopia

Hurt and abused children in Ethiopia

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Graham Peebles looks at criminal neglect of and parental abuse of children in Ethiopia
Graham Peebles looks at criminal neglect of and parental abuse of children in Ethiopia

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Published by: Redress Information & Analysis on Mar 03, 2012
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01/15/2013

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Hurt and abused children in Ethiopia
ByGraham Peebles
No defence, no support, no voice
Almost half the 82 million population of Ethiopia are under 14 years of age, thechildren of a new time. Throughout the worldthe call for justice, freedom and unity is beingmade loud and clear. It is overwhelmingly theyoung who cry out, often in pain and anguish,in determination to build a fair and decentworld. The 40-million-plus children in Ethiopiaare the hope and promise of this wonderfulcountry, and in their hands lies the possibilityof a new day and a just future.The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) report,‘Violence Against Children in Ethiopia, in TheirOwn Words’, states; “A large proportion of children, our beloved children, are victims of violence everyday around the world. This isespecially true in Ethiopia, whereapproximately 99 percent of the childrenpolled in this study (of 1750) said they hadencountered violence in their home, school orcommunity.“ The issue is of the utmosturgency and should be of primary importanceto the ruling Ethiopian People's RevolutionaryDemocratic Front (EPRDF),Ministry of Laborand Social A
airs(MLSA) reassuringly state,“The welfare of children is a priority concern
 
for the Ethiopian Government.” On the face of it at least, this sounds like good news for thegreat numbers of su
ering children inEthiopia.
Criminal neglect
An umbrella of ignorance and denial casts adark and painful shadow over the lives of Ethiopia’s little ones, “knowledge of the natureand extent of the problem of violence againstchildren remains limited” (ACPF).Abuse, justified often as cultural behaviour, denies thereality of the pain and su
ering of manychildren.The Ethiopian government, in the form of the  (EPRDF), led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,have signed and ratified the Convention on theRights of the Child (UNCRC). Internationaltreatises signed and laws written into theFederal Criminal Code by the EthiopianGovernment are clear and firm, to the letter.The law though remains unenforced andindolent, allowing the plague of abuse tocontinue, grow and intensify.“Ethiopia is notimplementing her obligations under theinternational conventions relating to the rightsof children.”(ACPF ,However“there is no [Federal] law [specifically] against corporalpunishment at home.”(ACPF)“Provisions in theCivil Code oppress the child and place it underdictatorial parental authority. The code, forexample, empowers the guardian “to inflict
 
light bodily punishment on the minor for thepurpose of ensuring the latter'seducation” (Article 267/2)” (SSBB)The Federalpenal code “is [here] in“direct conflict withArticle 19.1 of the CRC.” (See below)This isimmaterial from a legal standpoint as Ethiopiais compelled under the UNCRC to uphold therights of the child, however in not makingviolence in the home an o
ence under Federallaw, the EPRDF is endorsing abuse in homesthroughout Ethiopia.The children whose moral and most basichuman rights are being trampled on, know wellthe crime and neglect of the government andthose in whose care fate has placed them. Over60% of “children who were interviewed saidthat they considered violence against childrenas a human rights issue.” (ACPF). “The primarysettings for physical and psychologicalviolence were at home and in school.” (ACPF)Violence towardschildren within the family isendemic in Ethiopia “children regularly facehumiliating physical punishment andpsychological abuse at home, in school and inthe community-at-large,” where “childrenacknowledged the prevalence of sexualviolence” (ACPF)Abuse within the home,at the hands of parents, grandparents and extended familymembers, often goes unreported andunpunished.Focus group participants (ACPF)aged 10 to 18 years old report that the

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