Zeineba Jemal (15) from Jeju, Ethiopia, was circumcised and married early. Abused, Zeineba fled her marriage home, and finally managed to divorce her husband. She is now in school and wants to be a teacher or a principal. Photo by Alyssa Bistonath.
In Ethiopia, a woman has to be 18 years old to get married. That’s the law, but local custom in some remote areas rules the day. Many girls -- sometimes as young as 10 to 13 -- are abducted. Their kidnappers want a wife, but can’t afford the dowry they have to pay the girl’s family.
Once a girl is abducted, she becomes “soiled” or “tainted” because of the possibility she was raped. Rather than risk the shame of having a soiled daughter, her parents often consent to the marriage -- at a reduced price for the husband. Richard Lough reports.