By Belinda Luscombe
The subject of Angelina Jolie’s new movie talks about her life as a child bride who killed her would-be husband
In 1997, when you were 14, you killed a man. Can you explain why?
I was abducted, and I was trying to go home. I shot not at him but to keep him away.
Why had he abducted you?
Abduction is one of the accepted methods of marriage in Ethiopia. You get abducted, and then you get raped, because as the father of your potential child, the abductor is in a higher position to negotiate with the family for your hand.
What happened after you killed him?
I was arrested immediately, and I stayed in prison for a year awaiting trial. The Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association came to my aid and fought my case. After three years, I was released.
Did you get to go home?
I couldn’t go back to my village, because the family of the guy I killed vowed vengeance and were threatening me and my family. Through elders and mediators, it was possible for my family to stay. But I was exiled. I went to Addis Ababa, the capital city, to an orphanage.
How did things change in Ethiopia after your case?
Not much changed regarding the tradition itself. But in my village for about seven to eight years, not one girl got abducted, because people knew that there were consequences. They realized that abduction is not permitted by the law. We’re just now seeing abduction come back again.
Your case was in the news, but then you went silent about your travails. Why are you speaking out now?
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