7-year-old girl kept as a slave for a year is now free

A 7-year-old girl who was forced to work for free for a year, and endure abuse about her treatable scalp infection, has been reunited with her parents.

Demekech* was trafficked to the city from a village in rural Ethiopia by a relative who promised her a good education. But when she arrived, she had to do most of the housework, and was forbidden from going to school.

Demekech was abused physically and emotionally; her captors told her that her scalp infection was ‘dirty’, and forced her to sleep on the floor so they would not ‘catch’ it.

One day, Demekech bravely took her chance to escape when she saw the door was unlocked. She was found by the police, who referred her to one of Hope for Justice’s Lighthouses in Ethiopia. Upon arrival, Demekech was emaciated, and would hold her head down in shame.  She was also shy and didn’t want to take part in catch-up lessons or play with the other children.

Our expert staff worked with Demekech for three months, offering support including counselling sessions to help the young girl recover from her ordeal. They treated the scalp infection, and Demekech’s hair started growing back.

Thanks to our ongoing support, Demekech became more confident and started to join in and make friends. Our team also worked hard to find and contact her parents. We then successfully reunited the family after a whole year of separation. Demekech is now living with her parents and is back at school.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the survivor  

Demekech and her mother are now happily reunited