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Child Survival

From Stolen Bride to Loving Mother

Bridal abduction has been illegal in Ethiopia since 2005, but outside of the capital, the law is interpreted very loosely by police and judges. Girls as young as 11 are abducted and given in marriage to men much older.

Mulu, now 25 was abducted by her husband, Tofik, as she was going to visit her parents in a rural village. He had just lost his first wife and child and wanted to marry again. Once Mulu was taken, her family had no choice but to agree to the marriage, thinking they would be disgraced if they didn’t.

All of Mulu’s dreams and hopes were darkened the day she was abducted.  Mulu complied with the wishes of her parents and stayed with her abductor, living as his wife. As is the custom, she asked no questions about her husband’s past life. Even though it took her a long time to accept her fate, she tried to make the best out of the situation. She started working as a daily laborer and took care of the house to the best of her ability. She wanted to make her parents proud of her.

It didn’t take long before she noticed her husband’s unstable mental condition, deteriorating health, and addiction to alcohol and a local drug. As his condition worsened, she became the sole provider. She was also expecting her first child. Like most of the women in her village, she was unaware of the importance of prenatal care.  Mulu gave birth to a baby boy at home assisted by her neighbors. The unexpected happened when the baby died within a week.

Soon Mulu became pregnant again. Even though the unanswered question of her son’s death lingered in her mind, she hoped for the best. This time, not wanting to take a chance, she delivered her baby at the hospital.

She was happy to come back home with her baby girl. The third week the baby became ill and died when she was one month old. Heartbroken with the loss of her children, Mulu decided that she did not want any more children and went back to her old life working hard to support her sick husband.

The day Mulu knew she was pregnant again; she wanted to end her life. Though she wanted to terminate the pregnancy, the little hope she felt inside wouldn’t let her do it. One morning as Mulu was having coffee with her neighbors, she heard about an organization that was registering pregnant women. She went to the church to sign up, joining the Compassion Child Survival Program (CSP) when she was six months pregnant. They immediately arranged for her to go to the health center and start her prenatal care. Mulu tested positive for HIV. However, she was told that with the right care, she and the baby could both survive. When she gave birth to a healthy baby three months later, her grief and fears were relieved. She cried tears of joy when they handed her a precious baby girl. The baby tested negative for the virus and she praised God for his incredible gift. Had it not been for the care of the CSP staff, her baby would have been dead like the first two.

More than the support of the CSP staff, Mulu values the Bible lessons and the fellowship she has at the center. Her old confidence has come back, and she is very content with the life she is now leading. Even though her husband has many addictions, she has put her hope in the Lord who has sustained her.

Compassion’s Child Survival Program