The Film Oblivion: How Abduction for Marriage Ended in Ethiopia

Oblivion is a feature length narrative film based on a true story about the legal precedent setting court case that helped to outlaw the practice of abduction for marriage in Ethiopia – also referred to as “telefa”.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – One afternoon in 1997, in a small, rural village in Arsi, Ethiopia, 14-year-old Aberash Bekele was returning home from school with her friends when a group of horsemen dragged and beat her before abducting her.

“He hit me about the face,” Aberash recounted, speaking about the 29-year-old farmer who led the abduction. “I nearly lost consciousness. He was such a huge man, I couldn’t push him away. Then he forced my legs apart. He beat me senseless and took my virginity.”

As horrifying as it may sound, the man was not doing anything illegal. He was participating in a centuries old tradition called Telefa, which permited men to abduct young girls for marriage.

Aberash found a kalashnikov in a room where she was being held, grabbed the weapon and attempted to run away. A chase ensued, and the cornered Aberash shot and killed her assailant; she was arrested and charged with murder.

A group of independent producers and filmmakers in the U.S. have now launched a campaign to help finance a film about Aberash Bekele’s story entitled Oblivion. The film is a feature length narrative about “the legal precedent-setting court case that outlawed the practice of abduction for marriage in Ethiopia.”

“I don’t think of myself as having killed anyone,” Aberash told the media then. “I could have been killed myself.”

Aberash was represented by the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), then led by Attorney Meaza Ashenafi who won the case for her client arguing self-defense.

“This is an epic story, an engaging and engrossing film about a universal topic,” said Leelai Demoz, an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker who is one of the producers of Oblivion. “I have wanted to do something in Ethiopia for a long time and I have finally found a solid script.”

Crowdfunding by kickstarter is used to gain support for a variety of commercial and social projects. “I am also excited about being engaged through the kickstarter platform not only to raise funds, but also to develop a grassroots audience for this important project,” Leelai added.

You may watch the trailer and contribute to the kickstarter campaign for Oblivion here.


Photo of Aberash Bekele via BBC News.

1 Response to “The Film Oblivion: How Abduction for Marriage Ended in Ethiopia”

  1. 1 Celebrating International Women’s History Month: Q&A with Dr. Mehret Mandefro at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:13 pm
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