Based on an true story, Angelina Jolie's new film Difret sheds light on the tradition of child bride abductions in Ethiopia.
The movie, which was just released in the US, is based on the inspirational true story of a young Ethiopian girl and a tenacious lawyer embroiled in a life-or-death clash between cultural traditions and their country’s advancement of equal rights.
When 14-year-old Hirut is abducted in her rural village’s tradition of kidnapping women for marriage, she fights back, accidentally killing her captor and intended husband. Local law demands a death sentence for Hirut, but Meaza, a tough and passionate lawyer from a women’s legal aide practice, steps in to fight for her.
With both Hirut’s life and the future of the practice at stake the two women must make their case for self-defense against one of Ethiopia’s oldest and most deeply-rooted traditions. Difret paints a portrait of a country in a time of great transformation and the brave individuals ready to help shape it.
Across Ethiopia, 41% of girls are married off as children, 16 percent of them before their 15th birthday.
Filmmakers delivered a petition on behalf of Bekele calling for the U.S. government to put forward a strategy to end child marriage. The petition has received 145,113 signatures since it was launched 6 months ago, exceeding its goal of 100,000 signatures. Mandefro says child marriage is not just an issue in Ethiopia, recalling a recent article in The New York Times that discusses America’s little-known problem with child marriage and the thousands of children who have been married in New York and New Jersey over the past several decades.