top of page


Early marriages in Ethiopia


Child marriage takes place in several countries around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Marriage customs reveal the way in which a society conceives of the family, its role, its structure, its way of life.

Early marriage above all reveals the degree of submission of girls to male authority ...

The main reasons for these early marriages are the need to follow tradition, strengthen ties between communities as well as a way to organize the transmission of property, to protect girls from out-of-wedlock pregnancies, kidnaping and rape. … Indeed, since the “AIDS” years, a criminal rumor says that having sex with a young virgin heals you, cleans you of AIDS! ...

So, they are kidnapped, quite simply raped!


The protection of a husband being stronger than the protection of a father, to fight against these rapes, parents organize early marriages - too early - so that their daughters are protected and remain virgins, a parameter in high esteem.

In rural Ethiopia, 74% of girls are married before the age of 15 to a man they have not chosen, sometimes as early as 3 or 4 years old, or even before their birth. Families give their daughters to young men, still others are given to "old" forty or old. In any case, they do not know them and will discover them once the marriage contract is signed… by him.


Poverty is one of the main causes of early marriage. When the misery is great, a young girl is too heavy a burden and her marriage is seen as a good economic survival solution for the family or for herself. The groom offers cattle for the "price" of the girl.


The social consequences of these early marriages are very serious:

These successive maternities prevent them from attending school or working.

Others, when their husbands are very old, soon find themselves widowed and destitute after having suffered years of marital rape.

But even more radically dangerous are the gynecological effects of early sexuality and motherhood.

The husband is supposed to respect the “Madego”, the fact of living as “brother and sister” until the girl goes to puberty. However, men think that it is sexual intercourse that triggers puberty ...

Hence the terrible medical consequences on these little girls, the Fistulas ....

This early sexual intercourse and childbearing causes tears in the genital tract.

Young women become incontinent, urinate on themselves and smell bad, are repudiated by the husband.

The Addis Ababa hospital, specializing in fistulas, treats some of these young victims.

Some flee their husbands, but find themselves destitute and without work. At best, they will find a job as a maid, a bar girl or worse a prostitute ...


They stole their childhood, their dreams, their sex, their bodies.

Thousands of little girls are plunged into marriages that escape them, but from which they do not escape!

Lizzie SADIN

bottom of page