Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Do away with misperceptions


Fisseha Tadesse, the ex-spouse of former Ethiopian Airlines stewardess Aberash Haileye, was no doubt convicted for the vile and despicable act of blinding his former wife and cutting off parts of her fingers. His lack of apparent remorse is even more astounding.
But the angry voices coming out from many sectors of the society responding to his relatively “light sentence” are worrying. Phrases like “gouge his eyes out”, “execute him” or “let us lynch him” are anything but comforting because the Ethiopian rule of law and not the law of the jungle should be meted to individuals regardless of the heinous nature of their crimes.
There is a saying “law is not emotional” but at least should be responsive to the current situations and needs of the society. Therefore in light of that, Fisseha’s 14 year prison sentence might seem to get him easily off the hook, but I believe this is a time for the society to come up with a concept of what is appropriate punishment for violence against women and as such urge our lawmakers to fill such kinds of loopholes that allow vicious and dangerous criminals to receive light sentences or in some cases to be sent free altogether.
That’s where the outrage at Fisseha’s sentence should also be translated to, a constructive and meaningful dialogue and action to stop these kinds of criminals from thinking they can be treated lightly through  their brutal and hateful crimes, through the legal process only!!
There are many examples of people who receive either more or less of a sentence than people think appropriate due to extenuating circumstances. Instead of worrying how many years they get we should be concerned with equal rights. “The end justifies the means” may work in many cases but when it comes to justice, however it is unfair it may seem the only civilized response is drafting new laws, appealing sentences or accepting the final verdict.
However an equally  disturbing trend is that I have heard people mainly men inside the courtroom and outside try to justify his heinous crime by saying maybe she provoked him or more sinisterly by saying that her profession which was an Ethiopian Airlines Hostess caused friction between the two leading to his unacceptable action
They go on to say that since Aberash works in a place where she has the opportunity to meet many people she might have “betrayed” him for another man or was just “suspect” or promiscuous when she was away from him.
Feeding ignorance and incivility in our society can’t be legislated it must be educated away. Old fashioned harmful and backward attitudes allow these types of crimes to happen with impunity and cruelty. Tough punishment  can deter would be criminals and those that try to be apologists for their crimes but people need to know that regardless of punishment no one deserves such kind of treatment and we need to solve the root of the problem.
These stereotypes about women in our society not only extend to those who are employed in the hospitality business but also to those who come from abroad, especially from Arab and Middle Eastern countries.
When one of my relatives came from an Arab country with property and money she earned from housework to support her two sons she raised by herself., I heard some quiet talk and sarcasm from some of my relatives about the origin of her money and property she got from working in Arab country and one even went as far as to say he believes she earned the money through “prostitution” or as a possible mistress of her boss.
This is one way in which society seems indifferent  to the plight of our sisters who return to this country traumatized, physically and mentally maimed and in some cases in coffins through  suspicious circumstances.
The nationality of the perpetrators may change or the place may be different but the harm done from backward attitudes that allow people to justify harming people without remorse and the continual game of blaming the victim means that the cycle of violence against women will continue. Perpetrators of violence are often victims of previous abuse. Our society knows this is happening but we refuse to accept it.  Violence against women is a form of wickedness that must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We should not allow perpetrators of abuse toward women to receive light sentences and, most of all, we need to rid ourselves of the stereotyping and marginalization we have done to women in our society.