By: Rachel Lastinger, IATG ContributorJanuary 22, 2016
Recently, I had the opportunity to see the film Difret. The story was so inspiring to me that I wanted to share it with others.
Difret tells the story of a 14-year-old girl, Hirut, whom lives in a rural area of Ethiopia. Hirut falls victim to a long time cultural tradition in Ethiopia of young brides who are abducted and forced into marriage. In Hirut’s village, it is seen as the man’s personal right to choose his bride. If the Father of the young girl refuses, he can abduct his bride. This was the scenario that happened to Hirut. Unlike most girls, Hirut chose to fight back. Her fight back led her to jail and put her on trial. A local law firm whom specializes in cases of women who cannot afford to pay for services chose to represent Hirut. Together, they stood up to Hirut’s oppressors.
Hirut’s story was actually based on a true story of a young girl in Ethiopia and unfortunately, Hirut’s story is a common story in many countries. According to BBC, many girls get married before the age of 15. What are the usual outcomes of this?
Child marriage leads to girls being less likely to complete primary school, more likely to experience violence, more likely to be and remain poor, and are at greater risk of death or injury in childbirth. It also defies a young girl’s ability to make her own plans for her future and to pursue her dreams.
Despite these circumstances, the girls of Ethiopia are still dreaming big and striving to be their best. In BBC’s look into this issue they interviewed a young girl who said, “When I finish my high school I will join university; I'll complete my BA degree and get a job and help my family.” This was the most inspiring part to me about Difret. Not only did the movie inspire me to stand up against these oppression issues but I was inspired by Hirut’s ability defy odds. Today, the young girl that Hirut’s character was based off of, is a human rights campaigner. Girl Rising (girlrising.com) is another group that fights for this oppression issue as well as other issues. They tell the story of Azmera in Ethiopia whom also stood up to child marriage and today is studying at university to become a teacher and a community leader who works against child marriage.
I know many of you are like me and whenever you hear about these issues, you want to know what you can do about it. One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself about the issues. Find out how to watch the film in your area. Research sites that talk about the issue like girlsnotbrides.org. You can even take a stand and sign their petition, helping to spread the scope of knowledge about the issue. Maybe if enough of us know, and enough of us stand up against it, then we can start to see these issues change.
What are some ways we can educate people about these issues facing girls all over the world? What has to change to make the world safer for girls? What’s an issue or cause you feel passionately about? Share your inspiration on social or with your friends.
Rachel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where she studied Political Science/ International Studies. After living in Ethiopia for 2 years, empowering and mentoring young university women, she is now attending Emory University in Atlanta,GA where she is obtaining her Masters degree in Development Practices. She is a strong advocate for her faith in Jesus Christ, empowering the next generation of women and fighting for their rights, traveling, dance parties, reading, a good cup of tea, and Parks and Recreation.
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