Menon M., Perali F., Picard N., Polin V. (2023)
Economics at the cinema: learning from a story of child marriage. Available on the REPEC website:
Difret dramatizes the true story of a young Ethiopian girl, Aberash Bekele, Hirut Assefa in the movie, victim of a rural tradition of abducting girls for marriage. The title of the movie is highly evocative because in Amharic, the official working language of Ethiopia, Difret means both rape and courage. In the movie, courage refers to the fearless behavior of both Hirut, first girl reacting to a deeply rooted male-dominated social norm, and Meaza, the lawyer volunteering to offer legal protection to Hirut and committed to make abduction for marriage illegal in Ethiopia. We first narrate the story that unfolds through captivating and intense dialogues. We then propose an interpretation through the lenses of a social scientist striving to separate sociocultural and economic factors contributing to the persistence of child marriage. Finally, we ask what actions, either field programs or other products of the movie industry, can be effective towards ending illegal child marriage.