A young lawyer travels to an Ethiopian village to represent Hirut, a 14-year-old girl who shot her would-be husband as he and others were practicing one of the nation's oldest traditions: abduction into marriage.
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Three hours outside of Addis Ababa, a bright 14-year-old girl is on her way home from school when men on horses swoop in and kidnap her. The brave Hirut grabs a rifle and tries to escape, but ends up shooting her would-be husband. In her village, the practice of abduction into marriage is common and one of Ethiopia's oldest traditions. Meaza Ashenafi, an empowered and tenacious young lawyer, arrives from the city to represent Hirut and argue that she acted in self-defense. Meaza boldly embarks on a collision course between enforcing civil authority and abiding by customary law, risking the continuing work of her women's legal-aid practice to save Hirut's life. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
As a Muslim Bangladeshi woman once told me in reference to a recent "National Geographic Magazine" story "The Changing Face of Saudi Women", "Our problem is that men should learn to keep it in their pants!" The solution according to male tradition has been in "placing the onus on the victim" which is just another element in support of female enslavement, and as shown in the film, "Difret", the story of a kidnapped girl, Hirut. The male history of what it means to be a female is one of: maintain the household; provide sex on demand; provide male heirs (w/female infanticide not uncommon). Let's remind ourselves of the list of almost warfare style tactics for male dominion over females: Asset control, role guilt, child marriages, domestic violence, FGM, acid attacks, kidnapping as shown in this film, foot binding once common in China, isolation/exclusion, and stoning. One would think that the moral compass of religion would provide a safety net for women, but all the major religions were created for an illiterate populace where strength governed the ethos. In Muslim cultures Sharia law is overseen by males. In Judaism the patriarchs write the rules which saw women as jealous, vain, lazy and gluttonous; likely to gossip and receptive to the occult/witchcraft. Christianity with special emphasis given to Catholic, Orthodox, LDS religions simply exorcised the word "égalité".
So what is to be done? Hirut had the answer. Education! Educating girls would have a singular impact toward maintaining the health of the family, and by extension the community. A few critical locals promoting female education will have far ranging regional influence, for example, Afghanistan.
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