Ethen’s tragic New Year ‘gift’

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 12:58:09 +0000

How a woman’s rage changed life of 8-year-old Lusaka boy


IT was a horrendous criminal and barbaric act for
Dorcas Mukondwa to blow the fingers of her nephew, orphaned eight-year old Ethen Muleyi using fireworks on the eve the New Year.

Although bizarre, the act exposed a heart of evil and one look at Ethen’s ripped fingers leaves even the most hard-hearted person in tears.

With ripped fingers and stitches on his right hand, one would think that he is one of those children from war-torn countries. No, Ethen is from a home where hatred governed the emotions of the woman who was his care and whose frustrations had nothing to do with the boy coming home at 18:00 hours on the eve of New Year.

Eight-year-old Ethen Muleyi’s hand tells a tale of torture, wickedness and inhuman treatment from the woman who is supposed to protect him – his aunt.

Just like many adults were excited about entering the year 2017, children too were looking to the New Year with lots of expectations. But for little Ethen, the New Year started on a sad note for him, because something unimaginable happened to him on the second day of the year, on January 2.

On that fateful day, Ethen woke up all happy and went to play with his friends within the neighbourhood in Lusaka’s Chazanga compound where he lived with his aunt, Dorcas Mukondwa, 39.

Being a child, little Ethen forgot that he was supposed to be home early, he instead got home around 18:00hrs. His aunt was furious and as a way of punishing him, she tied fireworks with a string to his right hand and lit it with matches.

They exploded in his face and hand, blowing off two fingers.

Ethen’s aunt was on Monday January 23 jailed for four years by the Lusaka Magistrates Court after she admitted the offence of grievous bodily harm contrary to the Laws of Zambia.

Even though the boy’s case seems to have a happy ending, his life will never be the same again, as he has been left disabled by the person he looked up to as his guardian.

The whole incident will also have a grave impact on his education as he will have to start learning to write with his left hand as the right one had the fingers ripped off.

Like Ethen, many children in Zambia find themselves in situations where they are abused, tortured, battered and sometimes killed by people who are close to them.

Not long ago, a two-year-old boy was allegedly battered to death by his step-father for peeing on bed.

And recently a six-month-old baby was badly burnt and died from its wounds after the mother left all alone in the house and went out with her friends.

In reaction to Ethen’s touching story, stakeholders are calling for urgency in addressing and responding to issues of children’s rights and protection in Zambia.

Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) observed that the number of children who are sexually and physically abused, psychologically tortured and maltreated is alarming.

ZCCB president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu implored church leaders to spearhead the fight against all forms of child abuse and ensure that they were protected, by making the evil of such acts a constant theme of their preaching.

“The church should stand ready in a singular position to spearhead this fight. Let us put together whatever we have in terms of reflections to that we can move ahead. We mobilise everyone in the church beginning from the family. Children are most abused and tortured by the people who know them.

“We have to mobilise Small Christian Communities, Lay Apostolic Movements, the clergy, the religious, just everyone, to fight child abuse and torture,” he said.

Media Network on Children’s Rights and Development (MNCRD) director Henry Kabwe says it is time the  Government and all stakeholders showed that they meant business in putting an end to the worrying trend of children being abused and tortured in the country.

Mr Kabwe reiterated that children’s rights are human rights, and deserve to be protected.

He states that Ethen’s story and that of many other children are a wake-up call for Government to strengthen and take up its statutory responsibility and duty to protect citizens from harm, especially vulnerable groups such as children.

He also called on NGOs dealing with children’s rights and protection to ensure that they scale up their efforts in addressing issues of violence against children.

“Many children in Zambia need protection from the risk and harm that threatens their rights and well-being. Both Government and NGOs need to do more if children are to be 100 percent safe,” Mr Kabwe said.

And Child Labour ambassador Samson Mutambo demanded that the desecration of the innocence of children and violation of their dignity which had constituted a dent on the soul of humanity must stop.

Mr Mutambo said there was need for all stakeholders to prevail on the Government to enforce the National Child Policy of 2006 which assures children’s protection from vices that violates their rights.

He emphasised that there was need to safeguard children nationwide and punish offenders including parents and guardians who abuse children and endanger their lives.

“There is no way one can explain the effects of negative actions on children. Torturing a child is not the solution, in the end it does not change the child nor bring about appropriate behaviour,” Mr Mutambo said.

Children who are physically, emotionally and psychologically abused do not turn out better at the end of the day.

According to a psycho-social counsellor Charles Banda, such children in turn abuse others because they tend to see how they were treated as the way of life.

Mr Banda also notes that children that grow in abusive environment have 75 percent chance of developing mental illness and might be suspicious of people around them.

“After taking in so much punishment and inhumane treatment from those close to them, these children may become suspicious of other close relatives even when they have good intentions for them as well as strangers.

“Children should not be tortured just to correct them, all they need is therapy. The perception of such a child, that is, his thinking and his disposition to people will not be that positive anymore for a long time, except that it takes real intervention in terms of showing them consideration, love and compassion,” Mr Banda said.

Like the old Bemba proverb, “imiti ikula empanga” meaning children are the future, children are the future of Zambia and for Zambia to be a successful nation children’s rights ought to be protected.

Zambians must be vigilant and report cases of abuse of children around them. They need to report parents, guardians and anyone who violates children’s rights.



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