The Ethiopian government has been ordered to pay $150,00 (£105,000) in compensation in a landmark case over a woman who was raped almost 15 years ago, according to the international human rights organisation Equality Now.
Five men were convicted in 2003 over the attack on the woman, who was abducted and raped by the same group of men on two separate occasions when she was 13 years old.
But an appeals court subsequently overturned the men’s conviction, arguing that the girl could not have been raped because she was not a virgin, though this assertion was never tested in court.
The victim was forced into signing a sham marriage contract with the ringleader of the group, after being held for a month against her will.
This supposed “marriage” had legal ramifications for the case, because under the Ethiopian penal code at the time, rapists were exempted from punishment if they married their victims.
Faiza Mohamed from Equality Now, which filed the complaint at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, explained the significance of the ruling:
We can only hope that the message this unprecedented ruling sends will have a ripple effect at all levels of society. It has taken a decade and a half to obtain justice in a case, which should have been very straightforward. The ‘disposability’ of girls in Ethiopia and around the world needs to end. We cannot be free until every sexist penal code is changed and every single girl is protected from violence”