CAIRO: Security forces raided an orphanage in the Haram neighborhood in Giza Sunday, following a video on social media showing a man beating children, which activists condemned while accusing the orphanage director of child abuse.
The two-minute video showed a man taking one child after the other, beating them with a wooden stick the size of a ruler and then kicking them, as young boys and girls screamed and cried.
The video went viral among activists on social networks, where the man was referred to as an “aggressor” and an “animal.” Social media users demanded immediate legal action against him and activists shared the name of the orphanage and the full name of the director, whom they reported was the man in the video.
The published video appeared to have been taken with a mobile phone and with discretion, as the angle of the shooting suggests the person was holding the phone in a vertical position. In the video, the alleged suspect was heard asking a little girl why she opened the fridge, and why the children had switched on the television without permission.
The orphanage was identified as an associate of the Mecca al-Mukarama Organization for Orphans, and a number of citizens gathered in front of the orphanage to protest.
Giza Governor Ali Abdul Rahman ordered the dissolution of the organization’s board of directors, and for a temporary administrative committee to be assigned in their place for the next three months.
According to a fact-finding committee affiliated with the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood (NCMC), there is evidence that children at the orphanage have been subject to physical, verbal and emotional abuse, NCMC Secretary-General Azza al-Ashmawy said in statements to Youm7 Sunday.
“The employees at the orphanage did not deny it, and said [beating] is a form of discipline,” Ashmawy told Youm7. Furthermore, Ashmawy questioned the organization’s legal financial status, saying the NCMC filed several complaints to the Ministry of Solidarity.
In addition to allegations of physical abuse, Abdul Rahman also said “there have been some financial violations that will be investigated,” in statements Sunday to Sada Al-Balad news website concerning the orphanage.
The Haram orphanage scandal is just the latest in a series of orphanage scandals so far this year. Popular journalist Ibrahim al-Garhi posted a sarcastic article on his blog questioning the responsibility of the state and civil authorities in preventing crimes against children, holding several parties accountable such as official authorities, human rights advocates and even people charitably donating to organizations they know nothing about.
In February, the infamous case of the Sharqia orphanage caused public outrage after one of the supervisors there sexually abused up to eight children and confessed to the crime, which is awaiting a court verdict.
On a slightly different note, activists and news websites have been reporting that authorities responded rapidly—nearly two hours after the video was broadcast—thanks to public and media pressure, as activists on social media asked people to share the video to speed up a legal response.
They further published a copy of a complaint allegedly received by Rose Al-Youssef magazine in 2011, regarding the same orphanage, and claiming that the manager and his wife have been using children to obtain funds and donations without actually providing care for the children, in addition to several other legal violations and accusations of corruption.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Mahsoub.