The Christian Science Monitor

From women’s rights activist to Supreme Court chief: meet Meaza Ashenafi

Two decades ago, when a young lawyer named Meaza Ashenafi began defending women who had been sexually harassed, she quickly stumbled into a problem.

Not only was sexual harassment not accepted as a crime in Ethiopia. Amharic, the country’s official language, didn’t even have a way to express it. 

“We had to improvise. We literally had to create the word,” says Ms. Ashenafi of herself and her colleagues at the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, which she founded in the mid-1990s to provide defense to women who couldn’t afford it.

Wesibawi tinkosa,” she began declaring, testing the new term’s heft. Sexual harassment.

It stuck. And since then, that has been Ms. Ashenafi’s M.O. If the Ethiopia she wanted to live in didn’t exist, she created it – or tried to. As a young lawyer, she

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor2 min read
An Impeachment Trial The World Can Appreciate
No matter one’s view of Donald Trump, the Senate trial is a welcome display of accountability for people living under rulers who deny them the values of democracy.
The Christian Science Monitor3 min read
A Physicist Faces Entropy In Complex ‘Little Gods’
A mysterious scientist makes and unmakes herself in Meng Jin’s evocative debut novel, “Little Gods.”
The Christian Science Monitor3 min read
Powerful Women Writers Dominate The 10 Best Books Of January
Get 2020 off to a roaring start with the 10 best new books out in January. Classic authors like Zora Neale Hurston pair well with dazzling debuts.