Law Without Judgment: Challenging a Tradition of Rape

The Ethiopian lawyer and women's rights activist discusses the matter-of-fact way too many patriarchal men treat rape.

Meaza Ashenafi: Ethiopia is a country with over 19 million population and the country was a long history very rich culture. And unfortunately some of the traditional practices and norms affect women negatively. And the practice of telefa, which is abducting girls for marriage, is one of the harmful practices that affect the physical and mental as well as social-economic lives of women in Ethiopia.

I heard about the story on the radio. I was in a car. I was a driver and we were listening to a radio and there was media coverage about 14-years-old girl being abducted and raped and killing her would the husband. So as soon as I learned about the story, I immediately thought that we should be going to this place, which is 300 km outside of Addis Ababa where we work. And we should be able to defend the girl. I thought about this because I believed that we should save her life because she was facing like a life sentence. And secondary, also I knew that this is going to be a big case, precedent-setting case, which we could use for public education to enhance the dialogue and the conversation around abduction around telefa. Such a story is, for some people, especially people living in the West, it's completely outside their experience; in that sense it will educate people on how women live in the other part of the world.

Secondly, it's also a call to action. I believe educational institutions, women's rights organizations and government and non-government institutions whose mandate focus on gender equality would like to use this film for advocacy, for legal reform and to sort of enhance and accelerate programs towards especially fighting child marriage around the world. That's my hope. Getting Angelina Jolie was quite helpful — the movie, the content, the history, the presentation is fantastic, but her agreeing to be executive producer really took it to another level, to another height and I think that was kind of her. I think this film is quite educational in that sense because it does not necessarily judge the community. It does not necessarily sort of point a finger to the community; it sort of shows where the thinking comes from. So it sort of makes you to have a conversation with yourself because it makes you — it's not an easy sort of sin because these people, they have lived with this tradition for a number of years and that's what they know. That's what they believe. From time to time we need to go back to the drawing board and we need to have some real conversation on why these things are happening. It's not enough to say, "Well it's the culture; well it's a tradition." We need to discuss about, unpack and discuss about why this is happening.

Ethiopian lawyer and women's rights activist Meaza Ashenafi discusses the matter-of-fact way too many patriarchal men treat rape. She also delves into a film, Difret in which she appears as a character.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

This prophetic 1997 Jeff Bezos interview explains the genius behind Amazon

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
  • He saw the innovative potential of the online marketplace.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less
Promotional photo of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones
Surprising Science
  • It's commonly thought that the suppression of female sexuality is perpetuated by either men or women.
  • In a new study, researchers used economics games to observe how both genders treat sexually-available women.
  • The results suggests that both sexes punish female promiscuity, though for different reasons and different levels of intensity.
Keep reading Show less

TESS telescope has found eight new planets, six supernovae

It has found several bizarre planets outside of our solar system.

NASA/Kim Shiflett
Surprising Science
  • The Kepler program closed down in August, 2018, after nine and a half years of observing the universe.
  • Picking up where it left off, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has already found eight planets, three of which scientists are very excited about, and six supernovae.
  • In many ways, TESS is already outperforming Kepler, and researchers expect it to find more than 20,000 exoplanets over its lifespan.
Keep reading Show less