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Standing up to early marriage: Melka

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In 2004, The Ethiopian Government made it illegal for girls under 18 to marry Despite the law, every year, tens of thousands of girls are married by the age of 15 Many girls are forced to marry in secret ceremonies. This is Melka's story No one ask me to do this work I do it because i have to and because, when i was growing up everyone said it was unlucky to have a daughter to be a girl, I didn't believe that I live in Libo Kemkem in the northern part of Ethiopia In my village, girls have to work hard, we don't have that much but we still dream of becoming doctors and teachers I'm doing this because I can't let what happened to me happens to anyone else I was 14, I'd just come home from school and there were so many people at my house everyone was dressed up and I asked my mother What was going on but no one would tell me more and more people just kept coming then my mother brought me a dress and said "Here, put this on, you are getting married" I tried to run but they beat me next to me was a man that I never seen before I just wanted to get out of there After the wedding, he took me to his house in the next village he was so old he was sort of pushing me towards the bedroom I didn't want to go inside but no one would listen to me they just kept pushing his friends beat me It's hard to remember, they just kept beating me until I went in I woke up in the hospital my whole body was aching I could barely open my eyes, I couldn't even move I was there for about 30 days The nurses told the police what happened My stepfather and the man they force me to marry went to jail my mother did too The marriage was anulled After the hospital i went home I didn't have anywhere else to go when my parents got out of jail my father wouldn't even talk to me I couldn't afford to go back to school so I had to start working It was hard, but I've come out stronger Before this happened, I was shy and couldn't even look people in the eye Now I'm not scared of anything Here at the school, I teach girls about their rights I do this so other girls don't have to go through what I went through I want them to know that it's not unlucky to be a girl in Ethiopia Now 20, Melka teaches girls about the laws that protect their rights She has intervened in dozens of forced marriage cases

Video Details

Team: Girl Rising
Duration: 4 minutes and 3 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Martha Adams, Tom Yellin, Richard Robbins
Director: Richard E. Robbins
Views: 50
Posted by: girlrising on Jan 30, 2014

"I want girls to know there are people out there like me who 
will fight against 
early marriage." - Melka from Libo Kemkem, Ethiopia on standing up against forced marriage. 10x10 produced this video for our nonprofit partner Girl Up. Learn more at http://

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