15-Year Sentence Handed Down for Rape in Oromia, Ethiopia

15-Year Sentence Handed Down for Rape in Oromia, Ethiopia


Oromia, Ethiopia: 14-year-old Martha (not her real name), listened as the judge at Me’eso district court handed down a 15-year sentence to Legesse Getaneh. Despite feeling unfortunate that she had to go through this experience, she was happy that justice had been served at last.

It was one year ago that her stepfather raped her while her mother was away attending a funeral. “He brandished a gun and threatened to kill me and my mother if I spoke out,” she remembers. Martha was frightened and kept this unfortunate incident a secret until her aunt and mother found out she was pregnant. When her family reported the case to the police, they were referred to the Bureau of Women and Children Affairs, which in turn referred her to the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) shelter in Adama, three hours away from her hometown Asebot. There she would access prenatal health services and wait out the legal case.

“When she first arrived at AWSAD, Martha was a recluse,” says Hiwot Adera, the counselor who works with Martha individually and in group sessions. “She would always be crying, felt hopeless and was not sure what she was going to do with the child she carried. She was in a very low place, emotionally and mentally.” Through counselling and empowerment sessions at the shelter, Martha emerged from her state of depression and she has slowly begun to accept and love her child. She has also become sociable and even reaches out to new comers to make them feel welcome. “She’s very happy with the sentencing. Now she wants to return to her mother and resume her studies from grade six where she left off,” says her counselor.

AWSAD safehouse in Addis Ababa is supported by UNFPA, NPA, Comic Relief, WOMANKIND, Ethiopiaid UK and Ireland while AWSAD Oromia is a UN Women-supported safe house. In addition to services such as accommodation, food, health services and professional skills development, it provides much-needed legal follow up services to survivors in the safe house, which includes build-ing survivors’ courage to report cases and press charges against perpetrators, coaching survivors to be main witnesses in their cases, following up on their court appointments and escorting survivors to and from courts, hospitals and police stations safely. AWSAD also runs capacitybuilding programs benefiting the community and stakeholders, including the police in the region.

As a result of the police trainings, police in the region have improved the way they handle cases of violence against women and girls, and they have a better comprehension of the special care needed when receiving and communicating with the women who come to report cases. These trainings have also led to an in-crease in the amount of evidence that has been gathered and also led to a higher number of investigations being carried out. AWSAD’s work at the shelter and beyond means that justice is better served.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *