My name is Rediet*. I’m 18 years old. I used to live with my mother in a rural area of Ethiopia. My parents are divorced. My father used to come to visit me from Addis.
One day, my mother talked me into going home with him, saying:
“he will let you go to school which is better than just being here with me in a rural place.”
I agreed and came to Addis when I was 9 years old to live with my father and his new wife. I then joined 1st grade at school. My stepmother was difficult to live with; she didn’t give me food and demanded I did chores beyond my ability. Meanwhile, my father treated me well and appreciated me. Until I reached grade 3.
Living in fear
My own father raped me in the middle of the night. I could not tell anyone because I did not have anyone to talk to and I was scared I would have to drop out of school. The violence kept on happening; he waited for my stepmother to go to sleep and rape me. Because of the violence, I got sick; I could not control my bladder.
When I reached grade 8, I started to fight him when he molested me and I warned him not to touch me again or I would tell people. He yelled at me “you are not my daughter” and he threatened me that he will shoot me with his gun. I was not allowed to socialise with anyone.
When I reached grade 10, my sickness got worse and I could not control my urine at all. My stepmother took me to the hospital where doctors told me that I have a uterus infection but my father wouldn’t pay for my medication. When my classmates saw the problem with my bladder, they told the school’s guidance club and they started to help me in secret.
Safety at last
One day two policemen came to my house. They escorted me to a police station and I told them everything. They took me to the Women Affairs Officer who in turn referred me to Gandhi Hospital. The next day the police escorted me to the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development’s Addis Ababa safe house.
During my stay in the safe house, I’ve been provided with support and guidance. I’ve been given a safe home, food, individual and group counselling services, skill training on embroidery and sewing, self-defence training and empowerment sessions.
In addition, with AWSAD’s support, I was further provided with health services and medical attention I needed at the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation Hospital where I was treated for fistula and given physiotherapy. Now, I am completely cured of the injuries.
Through counselling and medical follow-up, I’ve been able to regain my health and confidence. AWSAD also provided me with legal services in the case against my father. I have testified at the court and I’m waiting for the final decision. I’ve also registered to continue my education in grade 10 in the coming Ethiopian year.
I am so very grateful for all the things that AWSAD has done for me!
*Names have been changed.