Transforming lives in Ethiopia

Mekedes’ Story

Reading time: 2 min

The term “stay home to stay safe” is now very familiar to us, but for many women worldwide home is not a place of safety. In Ethiopia, nearly a quarter of women and girls are subjected to gender-based violence. Girls like Mekedes.

Mekedes left her parents in rural Ethiopia to join an older brother in Addis Ababa, in the hope of going to secondary school. But for five years, Mekedes was controlled, threatened and raped by her brother, a person she thought she could trust. She lived in terror, thinking there was no way out.

In her desperation, Mekedes risked her life and confided in a neighbour. This saved her.   

She was referred to one of the six safehouses across Ethiopia supported by Ethiopiaid: … a sunny courtyard, hidden away, where women hang their laundry, children play freely and the radio plays the best Ethiopian music. In this safehouse, Mekedes found a community, and was able to start her recovery.

These women-led safehouses offer more than a safe place to sleep. Mekedes was able to meet with a counsellor and found support from other women who had suffered the same fear. She was given legal advice to prosecute her brother and began training as a hairdresser, which gave her hope of an independent life.

Mekedes now works as a trained hairdresser and returns to the safehouse to share her new skill with other women.

It costs £50 for a woman like Mekedes to stay at a safehouse for 3 months.

Each year, Ethiopiaid helps around 4,000 women and girls to find safety. You can help us reach more women and girls like Mekedes by making a donation today.

Thank you.

We are delighted that Jane Garvey has presented a BBC Radio 4 Appeal on our behalf.

Jane presented Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 for over a decade, where the subject of violence against women and girls was a recurring issue, and one which she feels very strongly about. You can listen to her sharing Mekedes’ story here

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