Ethiopa - Age of Consent for Sexual Activities

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ETHIOPIA LAWS: 1. Homosexual activity is illegal, punishable with a penalty of 10 days to 3 years' "simple imprisonment". This penalty may be  increased by 5 or more years when the offender "makes a profession of such activities", or exploits a dependency relation in order to excercise influence over the other person. The maximum sentence of  10 years' imprisonment can be applied when the offender uses   violence, intimidation or coercion, trickery or fraud, or takes  unfair advantage of the victim's inability to offer resistance. The maximum sentence can also be applied when the victim is subjected  to acts of cruelty or sadism; when the offender transmits a venereal  disease although fully aware of being infected with it; when an   adult is charged with committing homosexual acts with persons under  15 years of age; or when distress, shame or despair drives the
victim to committing suicide.



Outcast in land where rape is a proposal of marriage
The young Ethiopian shot her kidnapper. But by then, he was her husband

Observer Sunday June 13, 1999
FROM:  (,4273,3874527,00.html)

Aberash Bekele was 14 when she was abducted by seven horsemen in southern Ethiopia, taken to a remote hut and
repeatedly beaten and raped by the gang's leader. In rural ethiopia this is a traditional way of procuring a bride. If a man
wants a wife, he kidnaps her, and then rapes her until she becomes pregnant.

'He hit me. I nearly lost consciousness,' remembers Aberash.'He was such a huge man I could not push him away. Then he
forced my legs apart. He beat me senseless and took my virginity.'

Tribal tradition has it that once the abducted girl has been impregnated, the man can put his claim on her. Village elders
act as mediators between families and negotiate the bride's price.

In return for their daughter, the abductor was willing to give one ox to Aberash's parents. Aberash knew her rapist wanted to
become her husband. But on the second day of her kidnapping she found a Kalashnikov in the corner of the hut.

Badly beaten, covered in blood and with a broken arm, she tried to escape. But it wasn't long before her rapist caught up with
her. Hands trembling, Aberash fired three warning shots in the air. He kept advancing. Aberash lowered the gun, shot and killed him.  This broke every taboo. She was arrested for murder, brought to trial and created a major rift between her parents and the abductor's family.

'Many people marry through abduction. He abducted her for marriage, not to be killed by her,' said the bereaved parents of
Aberash's abductor.  Even though abduction is illegal in Ethiopia, it has become so common that police turn a blind eye. The matter is almost always left to the community elders to resolve.

In Aberash's case, they sent her into exile in an orphanage in Addis Ababa and ordered her family to pay compensation for the
abductor's death. To raise the blood money Aberash's family had to sell their cattle and borrow from relatives.   Aberash's case, however, has been taken up by the Ethiopian Women's Lawyers Association. Her lawyer, the organisation's founder Meaza Ashenafi, found in Aberash's case a symbol for hundreds of other girls.    'Aberash is the first woman ever to challenge and resist this kind of violence. She represents a revolution against male culture,' she said.

The village elders were furious. 'After the death of the abductor, we intervened,' said one of the elders. 'It shouldn't have gone to court. We've closed the case. It's finished.'

It took two years of strenuous legal proceedings for the judges to be convinced Aberash killed in self-defence. She was
acquitted.   But Aberash's freedom has been deceptive. Her village was not satisfied by the judges' decision and its elders decreed she remain in exile. Their ruling has more power than the law. Meanwhile, the abductor's six helpers remain free, their
reputations untarnished.    'Nothing has been done to stop these criminals so they are encouraged to carry on abducting girls,' says Aberash, now 16. 'The courts are not functioning properly,' says Meaza. 'Girls are not encouraged to go to court. If we had to compare our laws and implementation, then the implementation is a very serious problem. If the police can't do their job then they should be resigning.'

Meantime, Mulatu, Aberash's 14-year-old sister, is afraid to leave her parents' farm. 'I think what happened to Aberash will
happen to me soon. I can't even go to school or to market on my own,' she says.

Her father agrees. 'How can we protect our children from these kidnaps? Abductors are always following girls around. They don't care whether they finish their schooling.'

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