OROMO TRADITIONAL PRACTICES

  1. Oromo Values

The Oromo society as a nation is united through various shared values. Among others Gadaa, egalitarianism, respect for the liberty and dignity of the individuals, commitment to the rule of law are the most important features of Oromo society. Safuu is the principle of deep moral honor and accountability of the Oromo people of Oromia.

Because of Safuu, the Oromos are inspired to respect nature and committed to deal justly with humankind.  The men and women descended from a common ancestor constitute a corporate group, in that they share many collective heritage, values, rights and obligations. The society has considerable influence on the life and behavior of the individual members. Individual privileges, rights, obligations /duties/ and social identity are all imbedded in the society.

  1. Oromo Taboos and Mores

Oromo are patriarchal community and there are moral and cultural restrictions on their behavior. As in other African countries, sex and sexuality are taboo subjects in Oromo culture. Anyone who discusses sexuality openly could be labeled as ‘immoral’ or ‘loose’. Though illegal, domestic violence and the discrimination of women are endemic in Oromia. Cases of women and girls who have experience gender based violence are under-reported due to ‘cultural acceptance, shame, fear, or a victim’s ignorance of legal protections’ (Human Rights Report, 2012).

  1. Good Traditional Practices (GTP)

The good traditional practices can be described as any traditional practices which respect and positively improve the physical, sexual, psychological well-being, human rights and socio-economic participation of human being. Below is a selection of some main good customs practised in Oromia for the protection and wellbeing of humanity.

  • Oromo postnatal care– intensive postnatal care in Oromo tradition. On the fifth day-shanan– after birth, the mother was washed and blessed. This allows her to regain her strength and bond with her new baby. She is also comforted by having friends who care about her well-being, and is helped to feel pretty again.
  • Siinqee institutions- it was an Oromo women institution that protects women and their rights. This good practice was discouraged since Abyssinian rulers invaded Oromia.
  • Women respect-Women were respected and physical spousal abuse was forbidden in Oromo law and culture.
  • Elder respect- The Oromo view aging as a positive, gaining more respect as they grow older, men adhere to the Gadaa system in which they move into a new age group every 8 years, with each being more respected than the last. Elders are also revered as wise and ponder issues as they arise, giving advice where it is needed.
  1. Harmful Traditional Practices (HTP)

In Oromo context, harmful traditional practices can be described as any traditional practices which violate and negatively affect the physical, sexual, psychological well-being, human rights and socio-economic participation of human being.

Despite lack of reliable and up to date data on the prevalence of different Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) in Oromia, the available evidence indicates that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), abduction for marriage and child marriage constitute the most prevalent forms of violence against women/girls that adversely affect millions of women and girls in the region. Below is a selection of some main harmful customs practised in Oromia.

  • FGM- Female genital mutilation is a harmful traditional practice that affects the health and wellbeing of girls and women in Oromia.
  • Marriage by abduction-Marriage by abduction, though illegal, continues in Oromia. These marriages normally result in forced sexual relationships and physical abuse. The girls who are abducted for marriage are typically raped. The rape is said to make the girls unmarriageable to other men, leaving them little choice but to consent to marriage to the perpetrator.
  • Child Marriage- it is a term used for marriages that take place under the age of 18. It was practiced for a long time and remains common in Oromia. But the cultural and legal age of marriage is 18 in Oromia. The most effective way to tackle discriminatory gender norms such as child marriage is to engage whole community in different ways of thinking about gender and the worth of girls.
  • Domestic violence- this abusive behavior is common in most part of Oromia where physical harm is the most common form of violence practiced in the community followed by verbal insult. Majority of the perpetuators are intimate partners/husbands. The legal system and women’s awareness of it as well as reporting violence are not well developed. Failure to report to the legal system is associated with socio-demographic and cultural factors that hinder women not to disclose the case. The reasons given for underreporting include cultural acceptance of domestic violence; shame or fear on the part of the victim and a lack of knowledge of legal protection.
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