Corporal punishment is a widely debated topic today. It violates children’s fundamental rights to dignity and bodily integrity. For children like Anguache, corporate punishment was something that she had to deal with in her everyday life. As a result, she was forced to ultimately make one risky decision: to run away from home.
Anguache comes from rural Ethiopia where she lives with her extended family. Her father is the breadwinner who gets income from agriculture and livestock breeding. For Anguache, life became hard after her mother died. At 10 years old, she began facing the wrath of her father who used severe corporal punishment as a way of instilling discipline. Other than this, she was also burdened with heavy chores for a girl who was barely a teenager. Eventually, she dropped out of school. Together with other girls from her rural home, she fled in search of a better life to a town in northwestern Ethiopia.
Anguache´s story echoes that of many other children. Failure to attend school due to the heavy chores in addition to constant punishment at home is common, especially for children living in rural areas. It is not uncommon for these children to begin envisioning the idea that maybe they could have a better life than the one they have. The chance to seek a better life puts these children at a greater risk of abuse and exploitation.
Anguache left home and got a job working as a domestic worker in a brothel. For two weeks, Anguache would be forced to work for up to 10 hours with no pay. At the brothel, men began to sexually harass her. ¨What I have witnessed in the brothel was very horrible.¨
One day, a customer visited the brothel and saw what was happening. The customer reported the case to a social worker attached to Mahibere Hiwot for Social Development, an organisation working together with Terre des Hommes Netherlands to implement the Paths to Safer Childhood ( Phase II) project.
Anguache received counselling and was taken to a temporary shelter for further assistance. At the shelter, she received medical, psychosocial and legal aid. Before being reunited with her family, Anguache´s father was also supported with positive child disciplining techniques to employ when his children commit offences. He was also educated on the negative effects of corporal punishment which have the power to make children vulnerable to all kinds of hazards including unsafe migration and trafficking.
Anguache was reunified with her family and no longer has any thoughts of re-migration. She is expected to restart her schooling next year.
“The assistance provided has saved my life and changed my father’s life for the better. I want to be a legal officer as I want to support girls who experience abuse and harassment.”