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

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