When I was 14 years old, I was kidnapped for a marriage to a much older man, as depicted in the film Difret. On the day I was abducted, I was raped by my would be "husband." I knew I had to fight back and escape the first chance I got.
I was taken to a hut and locked up. When I received another visit from my abductor I saw my chance. When he was suddenly called away, he left his gun leaning against the wall and the door unlocked. My father had taught me how to fire a gun, so I took it and ran. When he and his friends chased me, I shot him. It was the most terrifying, horrible ordeal of my entire life -- and I'm one of the lucky ones.
I was accused of murder and after 2 years in the courts, the judge ruled that it was, in fact, self-defense. My trial led to a re-examination of this tradition and the Ethiopian government is now working to end child marriage and female genital cutting by 2025. In addition, the African Union recently launched a campaign to end child marriage across the continent. And most recently, the United States announced their Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, which aims to help end the practice of child marriage around the world.
Since my trial, I’ve become an advocate for ending forced and child marriage. Together with the team behind the film Difret, we want to expand our work and help bring the film to rural areas of Ethiopia as a tool to educate and empower women and girls.
There are no movie theaters in the rural villages of Ethiopia where the practice of child marriage and abduction are both still prevalent. Yet I believe screening this film in the very places like my village can help educate people and inspire change. In order to do so, our team will need to rent equipment, travel throughout the villages of Ethiopia, and coordinate screenings with community partners. In addition, we need to insure that we have the security is in place to have these conversations safely in the places where the practice of child marriage and abduction are still high.
All of this will require funding we can’t provide on our own. But if enough of the people who signed my petition come together and give just a little, we can make this happen.
No amount is too small and it will all go toward helping us end the horrifying practice of child marriage.
Thank you for your support.