Kidnapped. Raped. Married. The extraordinary rebellion of Ethiopia’s abducted wives

July 2, 2010 • Ethiopia, News

Thanks to Eric Rimmer for this article.

Population Media Center addresses the issue of marriage by abduction in its radio serial dramas in Ethiopia. One listener wrote to tell us that her daughter had been abducted on her way to school at age 14 and ended up married as a result. The letter writer and her husband were afraid to send their 12-year old girls to school for fear the same thing would happen to them. When PMC addressed this issue in our serial drama, the entire village, in which everyone was listening to the program, came together and agreed to enforce the law against marriage by abduction. As a result, the letter writer said, it was now safe to send their 12-year old girls to school.

Every woman remembers her wedding day with a tear in her eye – but, here in Ethiopia, the tears are different, and darker, and do not stop. Nurame Abedo is sitting in her hut high in the clouds, remembering the day she became a wife. She lives hundreds of miles into the countryside, thousands of feet above sea-level, in the hills of the bridal-kidnapping capital of the world. For 40 years, she didn’t talk about her wedding, or how it came to happen. If she tried, she was beaten by her captor, who said good women never speak of such things. So she tells her story slowly, haltingly, her sentences punctuated by sudden high-pitched laughs that seem to erupt involuntarily from her gut.

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