No Explanation Satisfies Violence against Children

Sep 10 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

Some of us have heard about what happened in the Bole Arabsa condominiums. Two kids were strangled and stabbed, allegedly, by the housemaid. Some people took to the streets, protesting the act and demanding justice from the government and judicial bodies.

What punishment would do justice to the parents? Would anything?

People demanded the alleged perpetrator be hanged in public so her crime would be a lesson for others. At the same time, many were doubtful that she would be judged according to her crime because of past experience where culprits did not get the punishment they deserved.

I cannot fathom how I would feel coming home to deceased children – one strangled and the other stabbed. It would break my heart beyond a point of repair. I doubt I will ever be the same again. We all fear that our housemaids could do something bad to our children but one could never imagine such a thing. This is not the first time things like this have happened but our memories are short and we remember recent incidents.

Aside from the unspeakable sorrow the victims' family must be going through, I thought about that of the suspected murderer's family.

What would her parents feel when they learned what she had done? Parents raise their children to be moral, and when that fails, we feel it is our fault and somehow we failed them. She was once upon a time somebody’s little daughter. How do we know our sweet children will become criminals who break the heart of other parents? I guess we will never know.

I heard stories that the maid allegedly committed the crime because she fought with her employers, while others said that it was because she did not get paid on time. If any of this is true, then this is psychopathic behaviour.

Certain mental disorders make us prone to a lack of empathy. Many factors could be involved, including genetics, early parent-child relationship and environmental factors. But we do not know the exact reason that turns a person into a psychopath. The people who witnessed the incident (after the maid returned from the police station) described her saying she did not show any remorse or any emotion. The only possible medical explanation I thought of aside from psychopathy was the Alien hand syndrome.

I came across it on Quora, a question-and-answer website. “Alien hand syndrome (AHS) is a rare medical condition that was first described in 1908," reads WebMD. "People with this syndrome lose control of one of their hands. Their minds can no longer give the “alien hand” directions, but it continues to move and perform activities — seemingly with a will of its own. These motions are often completely unnecessary or inappropriate at the time and can be terrifying to experience.”

If this were the case, the person would show remorse.

Also upsetting were commenters on social media tossing the matter and tying it to ethnicity. I was so furious that they took the time to ask about the killer’s ethnic group, as if that somehow would offer an explanation. The deterioration of the social fabric is a hole we need to dig ourselves out of as soon as possible.

No less cruel is how social media commentators have used the tragic incident to increase their views and subscribers. Most of them were repeating the same story with different thumbnails but they had nothing original to say about it.

The incident was ugly, showing us the colours of not just a perpetrator but also many social actors that acted in abominable ways. May the innocent children rest in peace.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 10,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1167]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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