Ethiopian Rape Victim Pits Law Against Culture
Woineshet then moved in briefly with Hayea and his wife but begged to be sheltered at the police station. She wanted to be protected 24 hours a day. "It was ironic because she was the one who ended up in jail," Hayea said.
Woineshet remembered saying: "I don't want out from this police station. They will kill me."
That's when she was moved to a cell.
Hayea said he held a meeting at the station, telling the officers, "At the end of the day, the entire community will have to wonder: What did we do for Woineshet?"
The police force conducted interviews. They rallied the community to testify and track down every piece of evidence -- her broken door, her clothing, the testimony of the farmers.
"There was good evidence, especially since she was raped twice," said Capt. Amaan Alishuu, the commanding officer. "At this point, practically the entire village had seen her running from the crime. There was no reason why the man should not be in jail."
A trial was held, and the accused was sentenced to 10 years in jail last November.
But in December, during a new court session, Ukie, then the judge on the bench, told Woineshet, "He wants to marry you. Why are you refusing?
"After 13 years, after 15 years, the lady she can be happy. She can be okay," he told Woineshet and the courtroom.
The judge suggested her choices were to marry Negussie or try to send him back to jail.
Woineshet refused to marry. Her father refused. The police refused. Even members of the community attending the trial stood up and refused.
"I had already made it through the worst nightmares," Woineshet said. "I couldn't have been hurt any more than I already was. He raped me. His family beat me. They forced me to be married. I wanted to speak out. I had known pain for so long. All I knew was that I didn't want to be married to my abductor."
The marriage contract was examined in court but wasn't seriously considered because it was dirty and torn.
One month later, for reasons no one is certain of, Ukie let Negussie out of jail.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company