Vulnerability among the Vulnerable: Younger Male Street Children’s Experience of Physical and Sexual Abuse in Ethiopia: A Qualitative Cross-Sectional Study

Yared Paulos Genetu, Kasahun Desyalew Mekonen


Physical and sexual abuse of male street children is rampant and it become part of their daily encounter on the street. Unknown too many, there are a number of research works done specifically on street children in developing countries. Despite the communalities of attributes that all street children share regardless of where they live, there is always something left untouched whenever we explore deep into the situation using their own words. This paper is meant to provide extra insight by examining the physical and sexual abuses that younger male street children face by older ones in Wolaita Sodo town. Cross sectional study design with qualitative research approach was employed. In-depth interview, key informant interview, focus group discussions and observation were the major data collection tools of the study. A total of 15 respondents participated in the in-depth interview; and five FGDs, each consisting of six to eight discussants, were conducted. The data collection process took place between November 15 and December 5, 2015. The findings revealed that physical and sexual abuse of younger male street children by their older fellow is rampant in the study area. Beating and burning their body are the major types of physical abuse. Few of them reported that they encountered sexual abuse. Out of those who encounter abuse attempts, the lucky ones escaped and the rest are actually victimized. In such instances, as the participants uttered, the police officials are not ready or interested to listen their problems unless something worst that attracts public attention happens to them.  Physical and sexual abuses are among the major problems that street children in Wolaita Sodo town face. The costs of child physical and sexual abuse are enormous and multifaceted. Particularly sexually abused children are more likely to be vulnerable to psychosocial and mental health problems. Hence, providing psycho-social counseling to help promote mutual support and smooth relation between younger and older street children would help minimize the problem. In addition, establishing separate mass sleeping arrangement for younger street children and rehabilitation of those who are already sexually abused are steps that have to be taken.


street children, sexual abuse, physical abuse, Wolaita Sodo, Ethiopia



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