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Ethiopia: Bride-Price Key in Increasing Rate of Rape

Ethiopia: Bride-Price Key in Increasing Rate of Rape

High bride price levied on men by families and relatives of the would-be wife has been found to be a key factor for the increased rate of rape and abduction in the country, a report by CARE-Ethiopia said on Tuesday.

CARE Ethiopia reported this while launching a new project entitled ‘Healthy Unions: Behavioural Change to Eliminate Bride Price, Bride Abduction, and Early Marriage in Ethiopia’ in partnering with the National Committee on Traditional Practices of Ethiopia Men who are unable to afford the bride price abduct young women and rape them, making them unmarriageable, CARE-Ethiopia said in the report on Marriage-related harmful practices (HTPS) The report said bride price, bride abduction and early marriage are harmful practices, throughout Ethiopia, shaped by economic and social conditions and steeped in cultural and traditional norms.

Speaking at a launching of the project during a workshop, CARE Ethiopia, Health Union Project Manager Seifu Taddess said while some believe that the practice of providing a bride price symbolizes the bond between the two new families, the price of the bride often negatively wraps the term of the marriage.

“Bride price often negatively colors the terms of the marriage from the outset where women are viewed as property to be bought and sold the wife forfeits her decision-making position within the household,” he said.

He added that the practice on the younger girls was viewed as “more valuable” as wives, thereby increasing the likelihood of child marriages.

Seifu said the issue of bride price reinforces and contributes to bride abduction.

Although the Ethiopian law, amended in 2004 to penalize abduction with 3-10 years incarceration, the law remains largely ignored by law enforcement and the judicial system, according to CARE Ethiopia.

The workshop was organized to sensitize on the harmful practices during which CARE Ethiopia launched the first ever Health Unions Project in Africa.

According to the Project Manager the Union will advocate for the enforcement of laws that can reduce the incidence of bride abduction, bride price and early marriage.

Indicating the National Committee on Traditional Practices of Ethiopia (EGLDAM), CARE Ethiopia stated the incidence of bride price is widespread among the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group representing 40% of the total Ethiopia population “In Oromiya, where the project will operate, 80% of marriages resulted from abduction, where as the national average stands at 69%,” he stated while explaining for the selection of the region, in particularly Borena and West Hararghe, for the project .

Source: The Daily Monitor – 10 April 2008

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