There are an estimated 614,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Ethiopia (GSI 2018). Child marriage remains a deeply rooted tradition in Ethiopian communities with two in five girls being married before their 18th birthday. Child marriage is perpetuated in the country by poverty, lack of access to education and an absence of economic opportunities. Moreover, 80% of women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with over half of these circumcisions occurring before a girl's first birthday.
Destaye was 11 years old when she was chosen by a priest in his twenties to be his wife. Her husband said he wanted a young, uneducated bride to ensure her virginity. He promised Destaye she could continue her education after giving birth, however childcare and having to work with her husband farming has meant she has been unable to. Destaye wanted to be a doctor.
By reading and doing my homework I hoped it would give me a better future.
This is geography, civics, this is chemistry. I wanted to become a doctor because it would let me achieve a high level of education.
I felt ashamed that day.
Everyone was telling me I was lucky.
[5 days after giving birth, Destaye had to be rushed to hospital]
I didn’t know what happening. I just kept bleeding.
I was really scared. I thought I was going to die.
When we got married he promised to let me continue my education. He said I could go back. Even after having a baby.
With the baby, I can’t go back to school.
Sometimes while I’m with the baby, I remember the things I used to do at school.
Narrative produced and provided by Too Young To Wed