A tribal ceremony during which young women are whipped in order to show the sacrifices they make for men is revealed in a series of photographs.
Members of the Hamar tribe in Ethiopia believe the elaborate scars demonstrate a woman’s capacity for love, and if they fall on hard times later in life it allows them to call on those who whipped them for help.
Women are whipped as part of a Rite of Passage ceremony for boys, when female family members declare their love for the young man at the heart of the celebration.
After the ceremony the boy becomes a man, and is allowed to marry.
The brutal tradition is known as Ukuli Bula, and was captured by photographer Jeremy Hunter. Instead of fleeing, women beg men to whip them again during the ceremony, held in the Omo River Valley.
For men, male decoration is simpler with the exception of their facial painting which denote status and progression up the social ladder.
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.
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.