Child marriage is one of the most challenging situations facing children, especially girls in Ethiopia. At the age of only 15 years old, Hirut was about to be married off to an older man, almost robbing her of her entire childhood.
Hirut lives with her siblings (brother 28 years, sister, 18 years) both parents. Her father works as a farmer on animals’ husbandry and crop production and has been able to provide basic needs for his family and educate his three children. Hirut was happy with her life, she was fed, taken care of, helped with household chores, attended school, and was part of a child rights club. Everything was going on well until she received some disheartening news.
The family farming business was improving each year and the income was getting higher. While speaking to some of his relatives in a family gathering, Hirut´s father was advised that it was time for him to marry off his two young daughters as part of their tradition. The relatives arranged for two men to visit the family. They asked for Hirut´s and her sister´s hand in marriage.
Hirut´s father decided that it was time to talk to them about the marriage proposals. After explaining the situation to them, they were utterly shocked and were completely against it. All they wanted to do was to be heard and to continue with their education up to college level.
Briefly after learning about the proposals, Hirut and her elder sister went to school and decided to inform their school director and the She Leads project facilitator about what had transpired. They both wanted help so that they can continue to live their lives as children.
The project facilitator strongly advised Hirut and her elder sister on their rights and that they should not be married at such an early age. The facilitator, accompanied by the community police officer, went to their parent's house to find out more about what was happening. They had intense discussions with them about the rights of children, the Ethiopian law and the family code, criminal law and the value of education on the life of a child. Additionally, they sensitised them on the impact of early marriage and its negative outcomes on the family.
Her parents listened attentively and started to reconsider their decision to marry off the girls. After further discussions, they decided that it was best for both daughters to continue going to school. The marriage plans were canceled completely and the girls were happy that everything would go back to normal.
Now, Hirut is glad that she is now able to continue to go school and take part in the Child rights clubs. She is receiving guidance and counseling support as well. She said, ̈I am very happy that my parents are encouraging me to attend school and study effectively. "
Knowing that she can pursue her dreams and live her life to her full potential, she explained that she plans to be a Medical Doctor and give health services to women in particular and people in general.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands will continue to strengthen efforts to end child marriage at every level, amplify the voices of girls at risk of child marriage and defend their rights to education and the opportunity to fulfill their potential.