Women of Hamar tribe in Ethiopia beg their men to beat them as part of a 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.


In southern Ethiopia is the Hamar tribe from the village of Turmi near the Kenyan border. They believe that scars prove a woman's position of affection towards a man.

A fundamental part of the convention is that the whipping of young women who are relations or relatives of the boy undertaking the Rite-of-Passage. The ladies trumpet and sing, extolling the values of the Jumper, declaring their love for him and for his or her desire to be marked by the whip. They coat their bodies with butter to reduce the effect of the whipping which is solely administered by Maza – those that have already undergone this Rite-of-Passage.

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

The ritual tends to unite the family and is an illustration of the womenís capacity for affection, and in later life – perhaps when they've become widowed – they will look to the boys who flogged them years before to request help. The scars on her back are said to be proof of her atonement for the man, and it is, therefore, unlikely for the man to refuse her needs in hard times or emergencies.

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

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Surprisingly, the floggings go on until their backs turn extremely wounded. 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.

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.

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