Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
The low social status of women and girls is both a cause and a consequence of violence in all its forms. In the patriarchal culture of Ethiopia, women are often the victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence that includes beating, rape, abduction, forced marriage (even in childhood), child prostitution, trafficking and genital mutilation. Throughout the world, these harmful practices, which are nothing less than a violation of human rights, have been receiving increasing attention in the last decade. Few data are available on the situation in Ethiopia, however; hence the importance of Dr Y. Wondie Yehualashet’s dissertation. He has investigated the magnitude of the problem in his country as well as the underlying mechanisms, and especially the consequences, of this silent tragedy for girls and women.
Dr Wondie Yehualashet observed 318 girls who were sexually abused as a result of early arranged marriage, rape and child prostitution and compared them with 318 normal children. The girls were examined using a standardized methodology in order to measure their self-worth and the traumatic effects of their situation. The results of the study clearly showed that the abused children had very low self-esteem and scored highly on the scale of post-traumatic stress and social dysfunction. Negative self-image and the experience of trauma were stronger in those girls who were victims of rape and child prostitution than in those in arranged marriages, who could still rely on a social safety net and had a certain standing in the community so long as they had the status of married women. Divorced or single women were lower down the social ladder again, with all the consequences of such a position.
Based on his findings, Dr Wondie Yehualashet has formulated a number of recommendations for further research, as well as recommendations to local and international authorities that should lead to better protection for these girls and women in Ethiopia and provide them with opportunities to improve their social status.
Report: Prof. M. Temmerman, Department of Uro-gynaecology, University of Ghent, Belgium