M:beubeuss is one of the largest rubbish bins in Africa և Senegal’s largest slaughterhouse. Over the past three years, the bodies of 32 babies have been removed as a result of waste collection operations.
Looking at the high rate of child murder in Senegal, it seems that the main reasons for this are the shame of pregnancy outside of marriage, the loss of traditional support for young women.
Religious conservatism, economic hardship, the lack of access to contraception, sex education in Senegal make many of the women I speak to isolated.
In the past, girls could apply la Badiane: – their older aunt, who would teach them about puberty և contraception as they approached puberty, even taking them on an initiative to leave for months.
Talking to some of the women imprisoned for murder and photographing the work done in the prisons of Tostan NGO, which aims to train as many women as possible through the workshops so that the prisoners can make money after their release, it becomes clear that the loss of that tradition is felt. As family support declined, there was no psychological support for these women or anywhere they could discuss and share their experiences.
“Having a child out of wedlock here is a serious, very bad thing for the society. “Women in this situation prefer to strangle a child rather than bear the pressure of society,” said Imam Mbaye Niang, a member of the Senegalese National Assembly.
Dakar’s Pouponnière was founded in 1955 to help overcrowded hospitals, providing care for abandoned or orphaned children. It was run by Roman Catholic nuns and cared for 4,150 babies. Of these, 3,496 were orphans, 550 were adopted or in the process of adoption, and 104 died. Today, Pouponnière, one of the country’s few orphanages, cares for about 86 children a year, although few Senegalese rural women know there is such a place.
It is traditional in Senegal for every family to have one la Badiane: – older aunt – to provide sex education to young girls. She is the only person allowed to attend the girl’s initiative in the “sacred forest”. But the tradition has faded, reducing the role and place of women in society, with drastic consequences for girls’ sexual choices. The older generation knows about traditional methods of contraception և Many women who have been interviewed have said that they feel abandoned by their elders because their mothers and grandmothers have stopped passing this information on. In Senegal, abortion is only available if a woman’s life is in danger and contraception is expensive.
Le Sacré Bois:, or sacred wood, was at the center of the rites of sexual maturity for boys and girls. In the conditions of rapid modernization and urbanization, this tradition practically disappeared, the last mass ceremonies taking place in 1968. Girls, led la Badiane:, would go to the sacred forest for up to three months, where they would participate in ceremonies, learn about menstruation, sexuality, learn about alternative methods of contraception. The loss of such an important ritual is often cited as a reason why women have less control over their fertility.
Fatima * is 40 years old. He was sentenced to five years in prison for killing his newborn daughter, his story is a familiar one. He fell in love with his small, religious community on an island in southern Senegal; he was pregnant at the age of 18 and unmarried. Despite external pressures, she decided to keep the baby. Son’s son’s father did not die anymore. She says she and her son have been abused in their community every day.
After marrying a much older man, Fatima had four children. But then he demanded a divorce, which was taboo in his family. He was evicted and his children evicted. She moved to the capital, Dakar, and found work as a housewife. During this time he asked for help Marabut (local caring leader) to try to gain his family’s forgiveness, but he raped her և she became pregnant. Not wanting his child to live an exiled life, he sought in vain an alternative. Abortion was not an option because she lacked the means and connections. She gave birth in a trash can. He hid the girl from his employers for three days before finally strangling her.
In Dakar, she met a man and became pregnant again. He cannot read or write, և he is paid less than ֆ 1 a day selling what he can get. Fearing for her life և for her baby’s life, she hid her pregnancy հեռ when the baby was stillborn, she removed the body. Today he lives in the forest, hidden from the public, making fruit juice with the help of toast and raising chickens.
Mariamna * is 42 years old, mother of seven children. He was released a year ago after serving five years for killing his daughter. She was a widow, middle-class working woman at the time, seeing someone she was not married to. She hid her pregnancy from family, friends and colleagues. She claims that her baby was stillborn, but admits that she was breastfed an hour after giving birth. An autopsy revealed that he had strangled the child before burying him in his garden with the help of his partner. The relatives called the police and he was arrested the next day. Now remarried, she regrets her actions, warns her daughters about men, and their “wrong intentions.”
* Names have been changed
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