unfathomable 260 Comments

Location: In front of 4 kilo AAU, café X, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Time: 9:30 PM

It was a random Thursday night. Gorgeous Addis Ababa evening weather. I can still feel the fresh breath of air on my face, my arms. I was a freshman at the University and I could not get enough of the newly acquired freedom. And I abused it profusely. I do not know how I made it through the first semester. I went out in that semester more than I can ever account for in the coming 10 years of my life.

This particular evening, my friends were supposed to pick me up at 9: 30, we were going out to one of the clubs, after having some macchiato at one of the café on bole road. We were supposed to go to 6 kilo campus to spend the night afterwards as the security was more lenient and we could use one of the windows to get into the dorm. We have done it plenty of times.

But this time around, my friends were late….I looked at my watch impatiently, and I said to Girma, “Beka ayemetum malete newe” (I guess they are not coming). Even though the club scene was not new to me I was disappointed. Girma is one of the guys that I have known since day one of my campus life. He hangs out at the café in front of 4 kilo every single evening.

He tells us he has a store in merkato. He lives in the apartment complex right by campus. I have been to his place on a couple of occasions’, following his gentle invitation to have tea. Needless to say one or two of my friends has always been there with me. He has become one of our ‘friends.’

Time is approaching dangerously 10 PM, time when the ladies dormitory will be locked. This is a time where cell phones were gadgets we only knew in the movies. I reluctantly picked my self up to start my walk towards my room. Girma stops me and tells me, u know u can always spend the night at my place if she does not show up, why don’t u wait for her a little more, I will sleep on the couch and u can have the bed.

I remember finding the idea to be very brilliant, but I insisted I could sleep on the couch. My friends were still MIA at 10:30. The café was long closed. Girma and I started our walk to his place. We took the elevator all the way to his floor and we walked into his apartment. The second we walked into his apartment, he locked the door behind us, turned around and grabbed me by my hands and started kissing me. It was as if he just could not wait for us to cross the door, and when it happened he really could not believe it. My entire being froze. I started fighting vigorously, but the fight was over even before it started. I was a scrawny teenager, just out of high school, and he was a robust man in his mid 20ies.

I fought with all the strength I had, I screamed at the top of my lungs. My fight was to no avail, my voice to no use. I felt a cold furor possessing my entire being in front of my weakness, my physical inability to protect my body. I hated being a woman for the first time of my life. I was a spectator to my own demise, loss of innocence as I could not save me from the animalistic, raw, bestial desire of a man. It is a scene engraved on my brain, man in his pure primitive state, greedy, selfish….at the mercy of his desire….no superego in action…no self control at all….

I was laid on the floor, for I do not know how long. I got up slowly, but I was not able to move far as his hands were quick to imprison me again. This time around he encountered no battle. I did not have it in me to even feign a slight resistance. I witnessed the same thing happening to me again and again. It was almost like my eyes were seeing, but my mind not registering…. my body and my brain belonging to two different entities at that particular moment. I assume now it was my minds way of coping with what was happening to me.

He was finally asleep as I snuck out of his apartment. I do not know what time it was, I realize I had lost my watch, as I reach the ground floor. I started walking and the fresh air on my face brought me up to reality. I realized I had no destination in my head, but I was walking. I saw a couple of taxis waiting for customers. I got into one and gave him my address. I paid the dues and knocked on my door.

The shock on the Zebegna’s face clearly tells me I should have been looking like a mess. “Menew Dehna ayedeleshem ende, mene honeshe”…I just had enough time to comb my hair with my fingers, when my mum’s voice came from the main door….Mane newe bezih seate bere yemiyankuwakuwaw…..I realized then, I was really not supposed to be coming home at the woo hours of the night, but I really did not care…..

Ten years later, another continent, another country, another city…..

Denver , Coloroado…

(To be continued….)

260 Responses to “unfathomable”


  1. 1 SelamT

    It is a very sad story.
    I know things like this happen all the time at AAU. At 6 kilo campus I knew a girl who got rapped, got pregnant and her family kicked her out.

  2. 2 biskut

    can’t wait for part 2 .btw is this a true story or are you just a good story teller ?

  3. 3 Nolawi

    I think this is a true story…… its sad.. this kinda thing happens in our country and the burden of proof is on the females….

  4. 4 Totit

    Hey Biskut…yes it is a true story…As I remember it…

  5. 5 Dinich

    Not that I don’t have sympathy for this girl but an abesha girl agreeing to come for a sleepover to a wendelate house where it is just the two of them can easily be misinterpreted as an implied “yes” to sex in the typically back home habesha culture. For a guy who is at the top of his game, it may not hard to sense what she wants. But I can see foolish guys easily misinterpreting her actions.

    Typically speaking, “let’s have sex” discussions may or may not take place in an habesha culture. Sometimes, it just happens. When it does, a lot of times it is consensual whether discussions took place or not and in cases like this one it may not be.

    To be on the safe side, ladies, you have to know Wendelate bet bewdiqt lelit le adar mehaed may be giving the guy the wrong signals regardless of the discussions, especially if the guy is not good at reading girls.

  6. 6 Mamitu

    Dinich,

    I think what you are saying is exactly why many Habesha women are not reporting rape, thinking that they are the ones who brought it on themselves. As Nolawi said the burden of proof is always on the woman when it comes to an Habesha woman that is raped. How about we say the guy was an animal to do this to the girl? He took away her innocence and with the high incidence of HIV in Ethiopia he could even have infected her with a deadly disease.

    When I came to the US years ago, I had discussions with young girls that I became friends with here about rape in Ethiopia, and each and everyone had a personal story to tell the perpetrators ranging from friends, family friends, teachers to relatives, it was sad, sad, sad…. Parents have to teach their kids that when a girl says No, it means No!

  7. 7 Dinich

    Mamitu,

    I know I am walking a fine line of being considered mean but I agree with you 100% that the blame goes to the guy…..but for a comprehensive solution especially in a date/rape situation we (as habeshoch) should encourage and develop a culture where girls should be able to freely communicate their yes’s and no’s in a clear manner without being labeled. That will leave the guys with no excuse. Saying “yes” even when it is a yes is a lot of times hard for a typical habesha girl (I hope things are getting better with the new generation) because of cultural constraints and guys get used to taking matters in to their own hands….

    Again not justifying the guy’s act, just trying to see the full picture.

  8. 8 Mamitu

    Dinich,

    I am glad that you are 100% behind rape being the guy’s fault, but what I say when it comes to rape, is that no one should emply that it was the girl’s fault, because the girl is already dealing with guilt that is as heavy as Mount Kilimanjaro. We shouldn’t bring her down further by making her think that it was her fault. As what you said about cultural constraints:

    “Saying “yes” even when it is a yes is a lot of times hard for a typical habesha girl (I hope things are getting better with the new generation) because of cultural constraints and guys get used to taking matters in to their own hands….”

    We should probably be very direct in teaching the general public like by saying, “If a girl is screaming and is trying to claw your eye out” she means NO, because many guys do not seem to be getting the message.

  9. 9 munit

    @Dinich
    “I fought with all the strength I had, I screamed at the top of my lungs.” this wasn’t a clear NO? what are you talkin about

  10. 10 Mamitu

    Dinich,

    I totaly agree with you when you say we should encourage an open culture where a girl can say yes or no with out any constraints. In the mean time though, I believe we should vehemently condemn those who rape so that the message will hit home.

  11. 11 Totit

    Rape is a taboo subject that absolutely get not talked about in our community. I told one friend of what happened the previous night, and we never ever talked about it again. It took me several years to even share my experience with the closest of my friends. I felt ashamed that I was a victim of rape. I did not want to be branded as the girl who got raped. I did not want to implicate my family in this mess. I felt like I let them down, and I was gonna be bringing some disgrace to their name. I have no idea how they would have handled it. I was afraid I was going to be blamed for going to his place in the first place. And my mind was not mature enough to deal with it. I am not bringing this up right now so I can get any sympathy, I don’t need any. I have dealt with it and I have moved on with my life. It has the minimum effect on me if at all, because at this point I clearly understand it was not my fault. But I want our community to know that it is a reality that happens far more commonly than we think, we need to let our youngins know it is not their fault. I also wanted the guys out there, to take full responsibility for their actions, and a few minutes of pleasure for them can create a lot of emotional scaring for us, and we can not protect ourselves against you all. As Mamitu has put it, No means No.

  12. 12 Mamitu

    Totit,

    I appreciate the fact that you shared your story, not many have the guts to do it. Hats off to you!

    And a big virtual hug from Mamitu!

  13. 13 tsedey

    thanks for sharing your experience and I agree in our community rape is considered the girl’s fault. I have proof b/ce i had a chance to work on women’s/gender issues in Addis and had close interaction with police chiefs about this. Surprisingly, even the female officers believe it’s the girls’ fault. So, it’s discouraging for rape victims to report the cases. The comm, the law and the executors fail us. so it’s upto us educate and raise awareness. It’s about time to start the movement. There are only very few org. that work on women rights in Eth. and I’d be happy to help any org. that works on this issue. As women, it is our duty to look out for one another, our children and educate men as well and hold rapists accountable.

  14. 14 biskut

    totit
    Sorry to hear these happened to you .Like dinich said some fara people misunderstand us .In aau i use to have a good friend ..I was like 19 then .He was very funny and all so i keep laughing and giglgling at his jokes .He use to take us around town.One day he dropped everyone and i was the last one left .He suddenly made a turn to a narrow corokonch road and started heaving and aynun maslemlem ….puzzled i asked “where are we going ? ene eqo bezi aydelem yemiwerdew ” …he goes “ezi guadegnaye bet tinish techawten eniiwetalen”.from the way he was breathing heavily and acted i understood what “chewata ” he had in mind .He was not joking as usual and i was not laughing and giggling.He said “sint tebekush eqo min endalfelege sew tizebanegnalesh ” he started getting madder by the second “min abash honesh new endalgebaw sew yemiadenabirish ” .His mood changed from ayn maslemelem to these disgusted and demeaning look. He completely changed from the funny guy i liked to these rude tesadabi soye .At this point i was nervously trying to open the door while the car was moving .The handle was broken so i strarted to beg .i was at his mercy .it did not work .he was much older than our group .he was already married with a kid at the time .i mentioned that he was a married man .He laughed at me loud and dry.Then i started begging by his son .Then he suddenly stopped the car and said “wichi kezi ” i stumbled my way home shaken but furious .i was lucky to escape that day .our friendship was done .This all happened because i was laughing and gigling with him .he got the wrong message .dinich i understand what you said very well

  15. 15 Luli

    Totit,

    Thank you, SO MUCH for sharing this. You’re right in not wanting pity, clearly you’ve had some sort of catharsis if you’re sharing this with all of us in such an open manner. Biskut, thanks to you too. It breaks my heart that habesha girls need to be extra careful about who and what to laugh at just so its not misconstrued as wanting a guy for more than his wit. Min yishalenal? Dinich, you’re right on point. We NEED to be more open and direct with our communication lest stories like these, and many more unheard ones, haunt us again and again and again.

  16. 16 Hanna

    @Dinich on comment #5: I commend you for spelling it out for us especially considering you’re a male.

    I have mixed feelings about your unfortunate experience, Totit. Although I feel you’re partly at fault for making it easy for him to take your innocence, you should have Lorena Bobbit his “prized jewel” and stuffed it up his a$$ and let him feel violated.

    The sad part is, here in the US, the law protects women of rape but it hasn’t stopped men from committing the crime.

    Totit, I want to thank you for sharing your life but don’t wait too long to tell us about the Denver experience.

  17. 17 biskut

    wow hanna you are at fault for saying she is partly to blame .She was prolly unexperienced on how to communicate with men given her age.Besides i guess she trusted him.He was simply a pig who took advantage of an innocent teenager.hanna since you are a woman you should see it from her perspective .please go back and read what dinich wrote .maybe you wanted to say what he said but did not know how to “communicate” it effectively.

  18. 18 take a chaperone

    I feel like I have to share my story here.
    I just moved to a new city where pretty much all the Africans knew each other. I was exicited to see anyone African and especially Ethiopian. This guy sought me out one day and told me his African friends told him about me. He told me his mom was Ethiopian and his father Yemeni. I introduced him to my cousin and invited him to be in our circle. He use ot sing old Amarigna songs, esksta and talk in Amarigna around me but I didn’t see it. He use to get up in the middle of a cafe and sing but I thought he was showing off. My cousin use to say she didn’t like the way he was acting but I didn’t see it. Girl-friend of mine tought he was interested but I wasn’t and I didn’t see it. He use to call me to say tifit alsh and nafekshine. I haven’t been around Abeshas much in a few years but I thought it sounded normal between friends. Most of the time when I get his message couldn’t call him back because I just didn’t have time. I called out form work one morning and slept late and was about to have a branch when he called. I told him he could come not relzing it was the first time I am home alone with him. I thought he came to have some kinche with me. I pushed and shoved said no as many times as I could when he was done, he said she liked me. As he was leaving he wanted me to give him a kiss. What happened that day, I never called anyone or told anyone and I just stoped talking to him after. He tried many times to reach me and even send a friend to ask why I stoped talking to him. I couldn’t tell anyone. I couln’t even warn anyone because I was afried of there reaction.

  19. 19 ep

    Wow,
    I always wondered how students from that campus get time to chill around … it was apparently tough environment even to succeed in average GPA.

    The funny thing is, it is only the girls (few of those) who get opportunity to have party invitation by guys who are not in school anymore, probably with more money.

    I remember a colleague of mine telling us he had a one night dating with a college student whom he met her for the first time in a hotel where he was staying (not in Addis Ababa though). He said the girl was sitting alone and kind of bored and he start to chat with her ..bla..bla..bla…He said it was mutual.. He told us she was a freshman student. For me it was shame story in either sides.

    Of course, there are a lot of pig guys but there are also guys who honestly fell in love and the girls knowing taking advantage of it. I remember a guy like that who finally could not finish school and left the country through Kenya. The girl was using every penny that his parents sent him. Well, she was laughing and giggling for him and he assumed that she understood his motive. Now when i met him in North America after so many years, he is a serial girls dater(no respect for relationship at all).

  20. 20 Leo

    @ep
    Those girls are called gold diggers not rappist….He could’ve just say “no”, he had a CHOICE..

  21. 21 kiki

    1 “Women ages 16 to 24 experience rape at rates four times
    higher than the assault rate of all women,”
    2 making the college (and high school) years the most vulnerable for women. College women are more at risk for rape and other forms of sexual assault than women the same age but not in college.
    3 It is estimated that almost 25 percent of college
    women have been victims of rape or attempted rape since
    the age of 14.
    http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/e03021472.pdf

    These are statistics for the US I can imagine the rate being at least twice as much in Ethiopia (because the stigma attached and attitudes about rape, lack of comprehensive rape laws etc…)
    Thank you for sharing Totit sadly your story is all too familiar to me. I have heard similar stories from several women.

    and @ Hanna it was not her faoult what happend

  22. 22 Dinich

    Besides the stigma, taboo etc…even in the west, rape is hard to prove. The rapist can defend himself in one of two ways. One is he can say I didn’t do anything. The other is to say I did it but it was consensual.

    The later is hard to proof depending on the case especially if it is a date/rape situation but for the former if you report the rape on the spot, doctors can have a sample of his fluids taken out of your body. That is a definite proof for rape. I know of an abesha case where the incident was reported on the spot and the fool said in court that he didn’t do anything not knowing there is a proof then got deported to Ethiopia.

  23. 23 Zebule

    I guess I am the devil advocate.

    If you asked me 10 years ago, I would assume a single girl wouldn’t come to a single guy apartment after 10 pm unless she wants ……It was a naive and controversial mistake.

    It is sad it happened to innocent girl but a portion of the blame goes to the victim.

  24. 24 Hiwi

    Here I was so excited to read about 4kilo tizita (good old days) and…

    Totit I know you said you don’t need any sympathy but my heart breaks nonetheless … thank you for sharing your story and that of our many sisters.

    @Tsedey, I agree with you in that the Police and law enforcement officials don’t seem to take the issue any seriously even to this day and the stark realty is the unfortunate situation for a lot of our sisters. We have a long way to go before stricter laws to protect violations against women are put in place and the cultural bind to improve.

    Does the name Hermela sound familiar anyone? If you were in Addis in the early 2000′s, you probably recall the public outcry & demonstrations organized by the Women Lawyers Association (EWLA)… or chances are you probably have seen the much glamorized ‘Ethiopian Hollywood’ version of her ordeal in the movie version ‘Hermela’. In any case, she was a friend of mine who endured harrassment & torture both physically and emotionally from an individual who claimed to have been in love with her for over SEVEN years! Mind you they never even spoke except a selmata as classmates in highschool.. The police merly reduced his horrendous acts to “love” even when he attacked her sisters when he couldn’t get a hold of her. Of course this made the aremene feel yelib lib and upgraded his attack to Kochera (axe) and then firearm! Then and only then police took action, but only to pass a mere lenient sentence of a few months. The case was appealed again, following a public outcry lead by EWLA. You’d think the Ministry of Justice would support this right? Nah, to the contrary it suspeneded EWLA’s office & activities. Even today, I’m at a loss as to what the Ministry was saying with that decision, other than to say it’s pro women’s violation? That we are second class citizen’s whose voice mean a damn thing? No wonder so many victims stay silent ….. anyway, I can keep going but this particular criminal (one out of probalby millions of unreported cases) was sentenced to 18 years but didn’t serve a day in jail because he was shot by the police trying to escape imprisonment…

    I look foward to reading part 2 & how you dealt with this. Thanks again for sharing.

    http://www.tadias.com/v1n5/GRS_2_2003-1.html
    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2001/10/16/ethiopia-government-attacks-women-lawyers

  25. 25 SelamT

    “These are statistics for the US I can imagine the rate being at least twice as much in Ethiopia (because the stigma attached and attitudes about rape, lack of comprehensive rape laws etc…)”

    This kinda thing happens in Ethiopia all the time. Not only in young girls, students. Poor house maids get raiped by the boss, his kids etc.

    A guy once told me once he and his 4 brothers took turns to go to the maids room at night. Those types of men are all over the world and they feel “No” means “yes” when it is an Ethiopian girls.
    They take it as megderder.

  26. 26 DeNile

    I once volunteered w/ an NGO that worked within Addis. One of the guys working there, who was not exactly an employee but considered ‘yesefer sew astebabaree’ told me that everybody in the sefer “respected” him. And I definitely could tell no female in the area was a friend of his, but then again he also had a tendency to yell at most people. He never yelled at me, not that there’d have been much of a point in that. He tried to explain to me that now, he’s nice. He used be harsher. I said explain. He said I’d not understand. The fact that I was a volunteer had identified me as a molqaqa sira fet who was removed from ‘real’ Ethiopian realities.

    Over the following months he got ‘comfortable’ enough to tell me that when he was in high school, he and his friends used to hang out at the girls bathroom. He said every girl in the school knew not to come to the bathroom unless she wanted to have sex. “All these girls know me from there”, he’d said. “But now i know that was not nice of me.”

    I was 19 at the time, and the truth be told, coming from a very sheltered family and background, I definitely couldn’t imagine being afraid to use the loo at my school. I remember him confirming that yes, they struggled. I remember asking if he’s HIV+. He said not. But he’d never say yes. He was one of those guys who ostracized this one girl who used to come to the NGO because her parents had died of AIDS. I’d discussed with him that even if she was HIV+, that it wasn’t contagious through regular day to day interactions. He’d shrugged.

    I have never fully processed this story. On good days I hope that he was bluffing, making up some story which he thought would scandalize me. On bad days, I think what he said really happened. I could never get myself to ask any of the girls from the area, because … well, how do u ask? And if they cower before him so many years later, what were the chances they’d speak up in public?

    I think all parents, or at least mothers, should take it upon themselves to send their daughters for self defense classes.

  27. 27 tsedey

    Hiwi, I remember Hermela’s story vividly. Thanks to EWLA, atleast her case became public and the whole nation had to follow it. However, I don’t know what the outcome is afterwards. Did they make a new law against sex offenders apart or they just made a movie and that was that? I think something like Megan’s law should be introduced.

    On this note, thank God for women like the then EWLA Chair Meaza Ashenafi and her team that change the lives of countless women victims of several cruelty and abuse by men.

  28. 28 bamboo

    in america kids are taught in elementary to report if any adult touchs them inapproraitely. in middle and high school students are taught about rape. the outreach programs need to educated the new generations on top of providing outlets, providing havens and legal options to victims. traditional culture is at the crux of the problem. there is much work to done betam bizu but if we want our people to thrive, injustices such as rampant rape, paedophilia and domestic abuse need to be forefront on our agenda.

    to all the ladies who shared their stories, your openness makes a world of difference to lijoch and adults alike who always believed they were alone and to blame.

  29. 29 Yared

    I would go back to Ethiopia to cut his little dick off for you sweetie.. For Free. Im serious. This sheds light on all of the ignorant and balager Habesha men that think with their little penis… Its sad a few of these men are still running around in our society…

  30. 30 C

    – Rape by definition is any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person

    – if it’s forced upon a person, then probably is unlawful

    – if it’s unlawful, then a crime exists; there is a victim and a perpetrator

    – if it’s unlawful, a crime with a vic and a perp, then the vic is the person that is being forced upon

    – if the vic is the person that’s being forced upon, then the vic is the raped individual

    – if the vic is the raped individual (the women in this case and in most abesha cases) how can it be the woman’s fault that she’s being raped?

  31. 31 Leo

    @ C:
    wow!

  32. 32 Nolawi

    ok my thing is not the whole its a womans fault..

    its not her fault at all.. but i think the word rape is thrown around lightly..

    when someone offers to have sex for other favors… like climbing the ladder in the office.. then its not rape..

    when someone does it so that they dont get downsized… its not rape … they have a choice…

    its only rape when the women has no choice.. physical force i think

  33. 33 ep

    Spousal rape or marital rape could also be most common in Ethiopia.

    Wikipedia link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spousal_rape

  34. 34 C

    ep wrote:

    Spousal rape or marital rape could also be most common in Ethiopia.
    Read Wikipedia link: Spousal rape

    spousal/marital rape probabley needs more definition and analysis before one can conclude is common in Ethiopia, if we look at it in a non-liner manner.

    the concept of marriage is way different in Ethiopia/africa etc than it is in developed/westen countries, as evidenced by the rate of divorce.

    but, if we’re thinking linear, yes, i would assume it to be quite high…

  35. 35 Dinich

    Nol,

    Exactly. I d say rape can be classified along the following lines.

    Rape by a spouse is probably the least criminal (though still illegal, I think the emotional scar is probably very mild)
    Rape by a bf is the next level
    Rape by a date is the next level
    Rape by a friend/acquaintance is the next level
    Rape by a complete stranger is way more damaging
    Rape by family member is probably the worst

    So my verdict is, for the last three types, cut their entin….lol. We can hire Yared to do that. For the first three types, case by case verdict.

  36. 36 gola

    This is a serious issue among the immigrant community. A friend of mine works at the court house where as a translator and he says how many of them are people we know. There is nothing light about spousel rape under the law. The law is very clear NO means NO. Let us all make this part of our everyday conversation and catch our sisters and brothers before they become the prey or the predator.

  37. 37 kiki

    @ Dinich:

    I disagree with you. I don’t think the emotional scar is less if you are raped by your spouse. In fact I say it is worse because the perpetrator is someone who you trust and who supposedly loves you. I am surprised how some men think one can’t rape their spouses.

    I think violence is violence and the rape doesn’t become somehow less because you know the person who committed it as opposed to being a stranger. But you could be right about rape by family member…

  38. 38 Dinich

    Kiki,

    You have a point…but my take was based on the fact that a husband/wife relationship is sexual to begin with. This is a person the woman had sex with 274 times….So, we r not talking about a 17 year old innocent girl being raped by a complete stranger. Besides, my assumption of a married woman is an older more experienced woman who is emotionally better prepared to handle things….But again too many factors and too many variations of cases…so it can possibly be as damaging.

  39. 39 haymanot

    This has to be my worst nightmare next to losing a family/friend. I just couldn’t imagine what it would be like and wouldn’t want to (I’m glad you spared us the horrifying imagery–thank you for that). First, my sincere apologies and well wishes to the author of this story. I really hope part II includes a trial (and maybe a good ol’ beat-down, I kid, I kid–I do not condone violence). Honestly, I think the issue of sex needs more attention in our community. I realize it makes some people uncomfortable but I don’t care. I don’t want to jeopardize the safety of our young men/women because some people are uncomfortable talking about their bodies. Really, some traditions have to go.

    I don’t know what’s like in other families but personally, within my household there is no mention of sex what.so.ever. Do not think it, do not breathe it, do not bring in the house. We aren’t even supposed to know what it means let alone perform it lol. Whenever I’m watching tv at home and sex scene comes on, my mom always side-eyes me to see if I’m looking and says “uh huh anchi baleye” lol. We all have to turn away, even her. I don’t argue with her bc really what good excuse do I have for wanting to look? haha I’m 20 btw. Can I ask, what’s the amharic word for sex? As you can imagine, I never came across it.

  40. 40 Tsedey

    OH MY GOD!! Dinich, just tell me you’re kidding! I usually don’t get outraged as i am now. YOU/ am assuming a MAN, are making a tier/level of emotional/phsysical scar based on a a victim-rapist relationship?! wow!

    rape is rape regardless of the relationship. It’s even worse to be violated by someone you know and trust. also, plse let women speak for themselves. don’t tell us this is how we’re supposed to feel if the CRIME is committed by someone we know. This is PATHETIC!

  41. 41 Dinich

    Tsedey,

    Wow…I am not going to tell you I am kidding because I am not. But I can tell you I could be wrong.

    But I am thinking the emotional scar of someone who is raped by her dad is way more complicated but a husband (mind you, he is not even an ex) can be less damaging.

    But again, I have no claim to expertise in the matter and at the end of the day experts should have the final word on this.

    So, don’t be outraged. Whatever I say is just an opinion that I formed in 30 seconds(not a stand) that I am willing to change anytime if I have to. You should be able to tolerate opinions as long as they are offered in a civil manner. Educate me if you will.

  42. 42 Tikur Lij

    I’ll keep my comment till i read part 2. Don’t keep us waiting …Totit! Ayozh gin anchi eshi.

  43. 43 Maria

    Dear Totit

    Thank you for sharing story. I am sorry this has happened to you. I know you said you dont want sympathy, so instead let me offer you my admiration for your courage in talking about it honestly and bravely bringing a taboo subject out in the open. I admire you for not refusing to let this traumatic event in your life define you forever and that you have now moved on with your life. That makes you not a victim but a survivor of rape and it takes a lot of courage to move from one to the other.Thank you again

    @ nolawi

    the operative word is “offer”. If a woman willingly offers sex in order to gain whatever it is she wants to gain then clearly that is not rape.

    If on the other hand a woman or a man for that matter is coerced into sex by someone in a position of trust or power by for example implying or even making it perfectly clear that it is either that or “else” type of consequence or if someone is in a vulnerable position to the person coercing them into sex, and the person doing the coercing is in a position of trust or authority it is sexual harrasment bordering on rape in some cases depending on other factors even if there is no physical violence involved.

    @Dinich

    Just because a woman has been in a sexual relationship with the husband or boyfriend who rapes her doesnt make that rape any less daunting. No woman is really equipped emotionally or otherwise towards any kind of rape whoever the rapist may be, stranger, acquaintance or loved one, and whether one is young or a sexually mature married woman. I have seen women who had been maritally raped for years, the trauma is not lessened by the fact that it was their husbands raping them rather than a stranger, in some case it is worse that someone who they trusted has raped them. Tsedey is right, please dont beleive than one type of rape is better than another type of rape or that one type of victim has it easier than another type victim it doesnt really work like that and it is a crime in all cases.

  44. 44 Hiwi

    tsedey wrote:

    Hiwi, I remember Hermela’s story vividly. Thanks to EWLA, atleast her case became public and the whole nation had to follow it. However, I don’t know what the outcome is afterwards. Did they make a new law against sex offenders apart or they just made a movie and that was that? I think something like Megan’s law should be introduced.
    On this note, thank God for women like the then EWLA Chair Meaza Ashenafi and her team that change the lives of countless women victims of several cruelty and abuse by men.

    @Tsedey, I’m not sure if a law per-se was passed as a result of EWLA and similar organizations’ efforts. But I know the struggle continues, I saw a documentary last March titled Woineshet (directed by Marisa Tomei) and it was painful to hear what this poor girl has to endure, time & time again. The docu was based on the book Half The Sky, Woineshet is a rape victim who’s fighting to overturn the archaic customs, which seem to slowly and painfully changing.

    @Dinich, I disagree with your ranking here. Mind you I’m no expert in this either but I think only the victim can attest to what exactly she’s feeling, living, breathing everyday. Just like in anything, our experiences & how we take life’s blows differ. Married or not even emotional abuse can scar someone for life, forget physical abuse, rape …

    PS. I hear the documentary I mentioned might be coming to TV soon
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUq6HsWKETA
    http://www.tonic.com/article/marisa-tomei-teams-up-with-half-the-sky-for-her-directorial-debut/

  45. 45 Yared

    Did he spank that monkey Totit…? sorry it was a funny nick name… and I don’t know if this is a true story.. but yea don’t know who to trust nowadays….

  46. 46 SelamT

    I was really moved by the film “Half the Sky” An eye opener. I think every Ethiopian needs to see it.

  47. 47 SelamT

    I was really moved by the film “Half the Sky” An eye opener. I think every Ethiopian need to see it.

  48. 48 Inda Habesha

    Totit–

    Thanks for sharing your story. You should write more because I think its one way to exorcise demons. Otherwise in the closet with them is like trying to walk between rain drops.

    I also think its insensitive to try to compare level of victimhood. In that exercise one is made less a victim than another while we all know victim or not, scars can make one feel like there ‘burden is the heaviest.’

    (formerly anonx)

  49. 49 Nolawi

    “If on the other hand a woman or a man for that matter is coerced into sex by someone in a position of trust or power by for example implying or even making it perfectly clear that it is either that or “else” type of consequence or if someone is in a vulnerable position to the person coercing them into sex, and the person doing the coercing is in a position of trust or authority it is sexual harrasment bordering on rape in some cases depending on other factors even if there is no physical violence involved.”

    Coerced into sex is not rape… its sexual harrassment..

  50. 50 tsedey

    Dinich wrote:

    But I am thinking the emotional scar of someone who is raped by her dad is way more complicated but a husband (mind you, he is not even an ex) can be less damaging.
    But again, I have no claim to expertise in the matter and at the end of the day experts should have the final word on this.

    ..atleast you’re open to learn. My whole point is let the victim talk about thier feelings not you. Plus, it is also not upto any experts- it’s only the victim that knows the depth and bredth of the crime and violation and they have to live with for the rest of thier lives.

    Hiwi, I read a review about that documentary. I’ve yet to watch it.Thanks for bringing it up.

  51. 51 Wurgatu

    Ten years later, another continent, another country, another city…..Denver , Coloroado…min tefetere? kezas???
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  52. 52 Freedom

    @ totit. Really touched me when you said i want my community to know this is real. I remember talking to a friend when we finished talking, I was shocked when she said “talking to you makes it seem so real”.

    Here is my True personal story..

    -I came to the US when I was 12 then at 15 year old I went to visit relatives in another state. There a brother of my cousin’s husband was living with them. I went to stay for two weeks there i was sexually assualted the whole two weeks. My cousin was there, his mother was there, his sister was also there but i couldn’t go talk to them. At one moment it got really bad i screamed so loud. I was scared they might hear me in the next room. All of them were in the next room drinking coffee and talking with eachother they did not hear me.

    -I went back to my state to start high school. The whole 4 years of high shcool was my darkest years. I was depressed the whole time. I would pretend to be ok but every night i go to sleep crying.

    -In college i was only interested in studies since i was no longer depressed. I had no interest in dating. I turned 22 and I met this older man he was 37. After one year of talking he invited me to his apartment and he said it is now time for sex. I told him i am not ready. But I felt pressued I agreed.
    We went thought the process but when he was about to do it i just screamed. He got angry and left. When he came back he was very sweet and nice. I was happy that he was not angry.
    Then he said let me take your cloth off and let’s try it again.
    I told him no. I told him i know for sure i will not be able to do it. When he heard that he came behind me and said i have to rape you. I was scared then he came and pushed me around on the bed. The scariest part was when he suffocated me on the pillow.
    then he got tired and just fell asleep. I took that moment to call taxi and i run for my life.

    He then kept talking many lies about me to my friends and family.
    He told them we had sex by leaving sex sounds in their voicemails.

    I am now empowered person after going to therapy.
    all my friends thought i was crazy to go to therapy.

    Now i feel really free. I was a slave for the Ethiopian culture and the community. My therapist also showed me the law of the state where I live.. it says I have a right to refuse sex after first agreeing. at any moment i have a right to say no.

    My ex- kept telling me you got naked and opened your legs
    if you did not want it you should have not opened your legs.

    I feel happy to live in such beautiful country USA.
    I have denounced Ethiopia. I will conitnue to denouce Ethiopia until they denounce rape.

  53. 53 Totit

    Hey Freedom…I am so sorry that this had to happen to u at such a young age…And I am very glad that u feel empowered…But somehow I did not get the part where u r denouncing Ethiopia…But u r right, It is really great to live in a country where woman are not really treated as second class citizens…
    @ Take a chaperone, thanks for sharing ur story…
    @ mamitu…thanks so much for the virtual Hug…right back @ u…:)
    and thanks very much for everyone else that put their 2 cents out…It was really nice to see the persepctive of so many people…

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