The alleged child “abuse” video: How Ethiopian citizen journalism is vulnerable for misuse?

A video allegedly showing an Ethiopian mother beating her own daughter began to circulate on March 28, 2012, online and it storms controversy amongst the Ethiopian online community.

The event did explode on Ethiopian mainstream media as the Reporter translated it into headline news and an alleged pro-EPRDF local radio talk show hosts Seifu Fantahun and Temesgen Afework picked the story while the noise is still loud and clear on facebook and blogs.

Though Ethiopians are a bit behind in catching up with citizens journalism, but as cell phone penetration grows by the million( by the way just last night ETV claimed that we reached 17 million cell phone users and 600 thousand internet users), social media specifically facebook users has started to make their presence felt. The alleged child “abuse” video could be one example. Let me save about citizen journalism’s increase statistics in Ethiopia and its impact for another post. Now let me focus on the video in question and how it could be taken as a case in point in illustrating the waste of social media.

There is no question about the seriousness of the acts of the woman who thumped repetitively on the face of the muted little girl and most of the response to a child “abuse” video I would say is appropriate. I would describe the heated responses as righteous anger. Righteous anger is the kind of momentary anger but a compelling rage and it is an experience which one suffers following a swift read-through of social media feeds like the one in the question. Righteous anger leads too much sharing, liking, tagging, tweeting and reposting, and insignificant -nevertheless creditable amount of activism. Like the ones stop child abuse in Ethiopia, stop abusing Ethiopian woman in Arab Countries etc.

Of course a short wave of online activism has its own virtues and each of all online acts against an injustice like this one has its place in a greater online discussion. But I strongly sense that the likes of Seifu picked up this particular story because they have seen the mass righteous anger on social media sphere as an opportunity to spread out their influence further. Here I just want to ask where these noisy guys have been when the story of Yenesew Gebre was smearing the Ethiopian social media sphere. Why on earth someone fails to pick the story from facebook? As hypocritical as things getting a certain individual even went on to appear on one local radio to award a 10,000 Ethiopian Birr (about US$600) for someone who direct police to the arrest of the woman who “abused” the little girl. The person who captured the video popped up and grabbed her 10,000 Ethiopian Birr prize and told the radio that she captured the video three years ago. Currently, the Federal Police Commission justice is looking into this case.

For those who blow the story of a poor typical Ethiopian mom and the little child out of all proportion, even though it is just on paper Art. 29 of the constitution in addition, to guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression, guarantee the right to receive information on matters concerning public interest. However, there are also articles that have concerns over balancing the right to information with the protection of minors and right to privacy.

For those who claim that they are too neutrals too pick up the story of Yenesew Gebre from facebook I would like to remind them if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. — Desmound Tutu

4 Comments

  1. Dear Endalik,
    I really appreciate your views in this article. I am really disappointed by the so called artists and journalists, who have no iota of sense for the suffering of their own people. They raised something, which doesn’t hold water, in their media- the mouth piece of dictators and the only aim is to serve the interest of illusionary leaders of the poor country- to show up themselves as if they were touched by the abuse and mistreatment of the child. I strongly believe that no one should treat children like the one we watched in the video, and my stand for the right of children is firm and unbendable. However, Why these artists or journalists failed to report the suffrage of many children, who can’t able to attend the teaching -learning process due to shortage of food and even have failed down in the middle of the teaching process, as reported time and again by many Addis Ababa and other region’s school teachers. To the surprise of all of us, Seifu and his ‘same feather bird’ friends publicly said that the questions raised by the Ethiopian teachers, who always work hard with dedication to see the success and achievement of their students with hand to mouth salary, were indicating the laziness or indolence of the teachers. So, how could these nonsense individuals have the moral of criticizing child abuse and mistreatment ?.
    I have been really touched on after reading the news of Alem Dechasa, who inhumanely treated in front of the Ethiopia Embassy, as well as the eviction of 78,000 people, including children, women, and the elderly from southern Ethiopia after every thing they owned was confiscated. Nevertheless, Neither Seifu nor morally ill friends of him don’t forward this issue to the public, and they have retreated from commenting and broadcasting the inauspicious strategy of the EPDRF junta ( criminal group led by Melese Zenawi).
    Generally, in today’s Ethiopia individuals standing firm for justice, freedom and equality are overwhelmed by the injustice and grievance ; Freedom of speech and expression is crunched by parrot cadres; innocents and logical thinkers are overshadowed by mafias, prostitute intellectuals , …; The hope of the youths is blocked by narrow minded and selfish individuals.
    Looking for glimpse of light inside a black hole is difficult.

  2. WOW! this is heart breaking—-Who would do this to such an innocent child this cruelly to child needs to stop nobody deserves..I could not hold back my tears !!oh that kind disturbed:nothing in this word could be that bad to make someone do that to Gods child.This is most horrifying I ever watch .I always thought a mother is an angel who should protects and loves her child,but this woman is beyond devil ,All I know what the child had been through during that moment is cannot be described with any word.How do you harm a child? Thank God this child is ok———–

  3. This is exactly how I felt when I first heard about I thought I was alone
    I think if they can’t educate the woman she should leave her alone look fame somewhere else

    1. This is exactly how I felt when I first heard about I thought I was alone

      I think if they can’t educate the woman they should leave her alone look fame else were

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