“Yes, there are other major issues threatening youth in Ethiopia, but this one is preventable”
I saw the video posted on another Facebook user’s page, and I was shocked. I thought that I needed to say something, to do anything I could to help.It’s sad to say, but growing up in Ethiopia, physical discipline was a regular part of life for most of my peers. I would see scars and bruises. It was not something kids talked about but it was an unspoken issue. They would be physically disciplined for many reasons, such as not doing well in school, not finishing a meal or getting their clothes dirty while playing. Sometimes for no good reason at all. It’s a bigger issue than this one video, I’m sure this happens in a lot more homes than we’re aware of.I think that on a cultural level, the line is very blurry as to what constitutes discipline versus child abuse. But to me, discipline is educating an individual about something they’ve done wrong. In my opinion, when you beat a child, they don’t learn anything.Yes, there are other major issues threatening youth in Ethiopia, but this one is preventable. We can change this.
“The story doesn’t seem to have trickled down to the mainstream population in any major way”
Child abuse is a huge problem in Ethiopia, but no one talked about it before this unfortunate girl was filmed being beaten by her grandmother, and the video was placed in the public domain via social media. Corporal punishment is widely practiced in Ethiopia, even in schools despite the fact that there are rules forbidding these kinds of acts.Walking around Addis Ababa, one might observe adults shouting or sometimes even hitting children forced to work as shoe-shiners or chewing gum vendors.Even though this kind of behaviour is commonplace, the video spawned a lot of righteous anger online. In the end, however, this very visible form of web activism is fairly insignificant. You have to keep in mind that while Ethiopia’s Facebook population is about 500,000 people, the majority of Ethiopians are still illiterate [according to UNICEF only 30 percent of Ethiopians age 15 and older can read and write]. There’s very little debate over the story among communities off-line. A couple of local media outlets picked it up, but it doesn’t seem to have trickled down to the mainstream population in any major way.Physical punishment has been such an ingrained part of Ethiopian culture for so long that you would need to create a highly coordinated and systematic PR campaign to tackle it. I think those who have gone on social media and joined Facebook groups are highly ‘westernised’ and were shocked by the video because they found it so brutal and ‘uncivilised’. They want to change their society through on-line activism, but I don’t think it’s an appropriate medium for this particular issue. Besides, there are so many other, more pressing issues threatening Ethiopia’s youth than child ‘abuse’, such as hunger, child labour and more importantly, the fact that it is becoming increasingly common to see Ethiopian children being trafficked for prostitution.