Let’s Talk About Sexual Abuse of Children

(Image: #MeTooEthiopia)

Aljazeera

Sexual abuse against children in Ethiopia: End of the taboo?

Twin sisters Dagim and Yeabsera were young children when their uncle first sexually assaulted them.

The abuse continued for years, as their father was absent – he left when they were born, and their mother worked as a domestic helper in a Middle Eastern country.

“Our uncle used to take turns to rape us, especially at middle of the night, when he was usually either drunk or high from taking drugs,” said Yeabsera.

They had been living with their uncle and maternal grandmother, who they say also physically abused them and failed to acknowledged her son’s devastating actions.

When the uncle was imprisoned for two years for shoplifting, his friends took turns abusing the children.

Dagim developed a heart problem, caused by stress. A school teacher referred her to a hospital for treatment where, finally, the twins’ trauma was revealed.

They are now 15 and, for the past two months, have been living in a refuge in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, run by the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (Awsad), the only local NGO offering shelter and rehabilitation to women and girls.

“We used to think we had no mother and father,” said Yeabsera, “but the care given by Awsad staff has got us feeling we have a real family”.

In socially conservative Ethiopia, the sexual assault of children, who make up around half of the population, is largely a taboo subject.

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Related:
Spotlight: #MeTooEthiopia “Assault is a Crime, not a Culture”

Watch: Stories We Ignore (Amharic)

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