Tume Mida is 10 years old; her husband, Dida Malicha, is 22.
Tume was born in a village 100 kilometers away from her husband’s home, where she now lives. Despite the distance, their families knew each other because of an earlier marriage. When it was time for Dida to marry, he and his father came to Tume’s family and proposed to one of Tume’s sisters, who was 25.
Both families agreed to the wedding, part of the bride price (through coffee and tobacco) was paid and the date of the ceremony was set. But, when Dida and his father returned to the village some time later they were shocked to discover the bride had married somebody else. Dida’s family was very angry, but agreed to discuss with Tume’s family to find a solution. It turned out Tume was the solution.
10-year-old Tume was offered as a replacement bride. Nothing prevented Dida and his family from looking for another family, but because they already had an agreement with Tume’s family, and had paid part of the bride price, they decided not to look elsewhere.
Dida explained his feelings about Tume’s older sister. “When she refused, I was so angry, I cried a lot. I thought I would not marry at all.” He had no desire to marry the young girl, and started to look for another bride to avoid doing so. But finally, his family calmed him down and convinced him to marry Tume. He resigned himself to marrying her. “My father asked me whether I wanted this girl or if I preferred to ask another from a different family. But it is our culture: if you first propose to a girl of one family, you have to accept to marry another girl from the same family in case it does not work with the first one.”
Dida’s father said that Tume’s reaction to the marriage has been good: “She knows properly why she came to this family and she is happy with it. She is active, she knows everything and is acting as if she were the housewife.”
Asking Tume if she missed her family, she answered “I don’t think about my family. My family is here, not there.”
CARE’s Healthy Unions project works with communities to reduce harmful practices such as early marriage, abduction and female genital mutilation (FGM). CARE has worked with Dida’s family to encourage them to protect Tume from having sex until she is much older.