Gang Rape in Addis Ababa Sparks Protests Worldwide

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Justice for Hanna

16-year old Hanna Lalango passed away on November 1st 2014, after five men kidnapped, tortured and brutally assaulted her in a gang rape far from her hometown. One of the five abusers is said to be married with a baby on the way.

On the day of her kidnapping, Hanna had complained about hot feeling well before leaving to school. Hanna supposedly left school around 4:00pm and got in to a minibus with her friend.

Little did she know that she was being ambushed by her classmate who she believed to be her friend all along. Her friend wanted vengeance for something Hanna had done to her. At this point, no one, not even Hanna’s parents can confirm what this was.

There were a couple of passengers already in the minibus when Hanna had entered with her friend. They allegedly were the kidnappers, the soon-to-be rapists – and her friend was the accomplice. When things started seeming suspicious for Hanna, she demanded to be let out of the minibus. Straightaway, the culprits threatened Hanna with a knife telling her to stay put.

The perpetrators took Hanna to one of the suspect’s house. There they raped her for, according to Hanna’s father, “at least five days” and held her captive for nearly 11 days.

2Nearly two weeks later, Hanna was found lying unconscious in an abandoned area near the outskirts of the city. The suspects had left her there to die. Random passers-by found her and immediately took her to the nearest hospital where she could seek medical help. From there on, Hanna was able to unite with her close family and friends.

Hanna’s family spent several days going back and forth between different referral hospitals waiting to be admitted. Hanna suffered from a number of injuries, one of them being fistula. She died 19 days after she was found.

Shortly after Hanna’s death, renowned Ethiopian TV host Seifu Fantahun sat down with Hanna’s father in a public interview broadcasted nationwide. The purpose of this interview was to clarify many assumptions being made to this story and to ask Hanna’s father many pending questions sought out by the general public. I have extracted a short script of the interview:

[Seifu]: Did the kidnappers have any unresolved issues with your family? Would there be any reason as to why they’d hurt your youngest daughter?

[Mr. Lalango]: I have never seen any of the kidnappers before in my life. They don’t know us and we don’t know them. After they kidnapped my Hanna from school, after they tortured her for days and left her in a secluded area…they eventually appeared in court which is when I saw them for the first time.

[Seifu]: So this whole rumour that they had something against your family was false?

[Mr. Lalango]: Absolutely. No one in our family has ever seen or heard of them before.

Before Hanna passed away, she is reportedly said to have identified three out of the five suspects from her hospital bed. The other two, excluding her friend are still missing.

The case was first reported at the Addis Ababa First Instance Court. Many concerned individuals came to show their support. Members of the Media (reporters, journalists etc.) and the Addis Ababa Women’s Association were also present

The 3 suspects were brought in by the police (2 are still missing). The judge allowed them to say a few words to the public before the case was officially postponed. All three suspects deemed that they were innocent and didn’t see why they were being accused of committing such a heinous crime. Of course, the public didn’t buy it. First off, these three suspects were the same men that Hanna confirmed of raping her. Secondary to that, in many cases which focus on sexual assault (i.e. rape, molestation, sexual harassment or groping), it is quite common for the abuser (i.e. the accused) to deny all the charges and claim that the victim had “asked for it” or “wanted it”.

Currently, the public is waiting for all five men to be brought to justice.

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