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Big Brother romp rankles Ethiopian lawyers

July 13, 2013

By Aaron Maasho

(Reuters) – Lawyers in conservative Ethiopia have asked police to investigate an Ethiopian contestant in the “Big Brother Africa” reality television show after she appeared to have sex with a fellow housemate.

Betty Abera, 27, represented Ethiopia in the pan-contintental version of the show that has spawned editions around the world. She was not immediately available for comment.

Under Ethiopia’s criminal code, sexual acts or “any other obscene act or gesture” in public could lead to a jail term of up to one year, or a fine of up to 1,000 birr ($54).

If the authorities deem her act a criminal offence, prosecutors are likely to press charges.

“This was an act that shamed many Ethiopians. We have clear laws that reject such indecency,” said Paulos Tessema, one of the lawyers who have called for the investigation.

Police have yet to comment on whether they would take up the case.

Nonetheless, some Ethiopians have taken to social media to express their outrage over show in which the winner will scoop £300,000 next month, with Facebook pages denouncing the contestant.

“Betty didn’t represent Ethiopia on Big Brother Africa,” says one, with the contestant’s picture marked with an “X”. Another page has death threats posted on it.

Abera was evicted in June from the show that has whittled down the housemates since May. She told an Ethiopian radio show this month she was still in Johannesburg, where the series is being filmed, but planned to travel back to Addis Ababa soon.

Ethiopia’s population of 85 million is comprised of an Orthodox majority population and a large Muslim minority. (Editing by James Macharia and Alison Williams)


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