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Women of Hamar Tribe Beg their Men to Beat Them as part of custom

The Hamar tribe from the village of Turmi in southern Ethiopia and near the Kenyan border, believe the scars demonstrate a woman’s capacity for love.

A key element of the ceremony is the whipping of young women who are family members or relatives of the boy undertaking the Rite-of-Passage. The women trumpet and sing, extolling the virtues of the Jumper, declaring their love for him and for their desire to be marked by the whip. They coat their bodies with butter to lessen the effect of the whipping which is only carried out by Maza – those who have already undergone this Rite-of-Passage.

Some whipping appears to be tender, others more aggressive. But once whipped, the girls proudly show off their scars – as proof of their courage and integrity. Itís a kind of Insurance Policy.

The ceremony tends to unite the family and is a demonstration of the womenís capacity for love, and in later life – perhaps when they’ve become widowed – they will look to the boys who whipped them years before to request help.The scars on her back are said to be proof of her sacrifice for the man, and it is therefore impossible for the man to refuse her needs in hard times or emergencies.

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Hamar women of the Lower Omo Valley, Southern Ethiopia willingly submit themselves to be whipped during the ceremony of Ukuli Bula . It indicates their courage and capacity for love, and is a form of insurance policy. Should they fall on hard times in later life, they will look to the boy who whipped them to request help.

Surprinsingly, the beatings go on until their backs turn bloody. During the beatings, women are not allowed to scream. Instead of fleeing, the women often beg the men to whip them again and again and again and again during the ceremony.


Beatings are not just ceremonial; Women in the Hamar tribe are subject to beatings even after the ceremony at any time the man pleases unless they give birth to at least two children.

The rules of the tribe also say that men do not need to explain why they are beating the women as they can do so as and when they feel is right. This has created deep scars at the backs of the women which they proudly show off as beautiful.

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In spite of these, women in the Hamar tribe are expected to be strong like the men and are supposed to do all household chores, take care of the children and sow crops as well as keep the cattle.

A naked boy jumping 15 cows to become a man and given the chance to marry. The brutal tradition is known as Ukuli Bula, and was captured by photographer Jeremy Hunter. 

Subsequently during the ceremony, their young men (boy) leap across 15 cows after which they become a man following a successful circumcision, and order to be allowed to marry and once that is achieved a celebration is held to end the ceremony.

Hamar men can also marry more than one woman, but the women who are not first wives are treated more like slaves as they do a majority of the work.

What do you think?

Written by Mike Bisho

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