| AWASA, Ethiopia
AWASA, Ethiopia The Ethiopian baby adopted by
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie was conceived after her mother
was raped, the woman said this week.
Mentwabe Dawit, mother of two-year-old Zahara, described
how she was attacked one evening in 2004 after a day's work at
a construction site in the southern Ethiopian town of Awasa.
As she walked home in the darkness, a man approached.
"He pulled a dagger, put one hand on my mouth, so that I
could not scream. He then raped me and disappeared," Mentwabe
told Reuters in an interview, tears streaming down her face.
The 24-year-old decided to keep the assault a secret.
"I feared the consequences of being raped in a community
where rape is considered a taboo, even if what happened
happened forcibly," she said.
As her belly swelled, Mentwabe could no longer hide her
pregnancy and confided in her mother.
"It was not as I feared. I found my mother understanding
and consoling. She urged me not to do anything rash, which
might endanger my life."
Mentwabe gave birth in the family's earth-floored house and
she named the little girl Yemsrach which means good news in the
However, she soon found she was unable to feed the baby.
"My baby was on the verge of death. She became malnourished
and was even unable to cry," Mentwabe said. "I was desperate
and decided to run away, rather than see my child dying."
Mentwabe's distraught mother searched for her for months
around Awasa, 270 kms (170 miles) south of the capital Addis
Ababa. She eventually put Yemsrach up for adoption, in the
belief her own daughter had died.
Mentwabe said her mother did what she thought was best, and
denied newspaper reports in the United States and Europe that
she wanted Yemsrach, renamed Zahara, back.
"My mother was not misled by anyone, as was alleged by some
media outlets. Her motive was to save the child from dying
which I fully understand.
"I have never disputed the adoption of my baby by Angelina
"I think my daughter is a very fortunate human being to be
adopted by a world famous lady. I wish them both all the
success they deserve," she said.
(Editing by Katie Nguyen and Robert Woodward)