women in Senegal are also victims of a superstition that they want a sex that ensures wealth: And hello predation.
Dull look, low voice, Mame Penda Diallo seems to live in an incessant anguish. The girl is aware that her life can switch at any time simply because she is albino. In Senegal, this community lives on a daily basis under sexual harassment and other attempts at rape.
Originally from Bambey, a locality in the Diourbel region, this young lady works as a local security officer (PSA) at the urban police station of this city. By far, hard to imagine that she is albino. No stain on his monocolored skin. We would rather take her for a woman of fair complexion, with a rather pronounced whiteness. But it is enough to approach her to get to the obvious. An involuntary depigmentation that makes the bed of his misfortune. Mame Penda is often besieged by evil men who, according to her, have only one goal: « to sleep with me to satisfy mystical sexual needs ».
Having repeatedly been the victim of sexual harassment and attempted rape, Mame Penda Diallo is struggling to get rid of the scars from these horrific misadventures. Like any ASP, she wears a blue Lacoste t-shirt with black pants and well waxed ballerinas. This modest office she occupies is in the room for making identity documents. Computer, camera and a stack of ID cards are the only documents on his table.
« He started forcing me while telling me he’s going to wear a condom »
After a few seconds of silence, she begins, timidly, to tell his misadventures. « Since my childhood, I live on a daily basis sexual harassment, » she slips.
Then, a few moments of hesitation. And the story resumes its course. When she was younger, she says, predators were rather fearful. « Many who wanted to act were afraid of my father because he lived in this locality.But the more I grew up, harassment increased, » she confesses.
After a few minutes, confidence sets in and speech is released. Mame Penda finally resolves to tell of her agonizing existence, including in the rather revealing details: « I remember one day, a man invited me to his place and arrived at the scene, I realized that he already had His plan was to rape me, and when I got back to his room, he closed the door twice before turning off the lamp, and then I asked him what he wanted to do. ‘clearly meant that he wants to sleep with me and did not want to hear anything,’ she says.
At this moment, Mame Penda seems overwhelmed with emotion. She goes back into silence. Pensive at times, hesitant by others, she still manages to resume his painful story. « In the face of his determination, I began to reason with him while asking him to let me go, on the pretext that I take mystical baths that prevent me from doing certain things, but he did not want to hear anything. Elsewhere, it was there that he began to force me while telling me that he was going to wear a condom, but since I did not let myself go, he finally gave up and let me go. «
Arrival at her house, Mame Penda realizes that she has just escaped the worst. Besides, she did not expect this surprise. She could not help sending him a message to express all the disappointment she had with him.
The story of Mame Penda may be poignant, it is only one case among hundreds or even thousands of dramas. In Senegal, as in Africa in general, in addition to the ritual crimes perpetrated against the albino minority, there are the harassment and the sexual violence that they undergo and often in the name of the traditional beliefs. And yet their only particularity is to have a body devoid of melanin. This substance that colors the skin, and helps the eyes to see.
The Jeune Afrique magazine also reports in an article on the priors on albinos: « In Senegal dozens of albino women are raped every year, a belief that it heals AIDS, » says the weekly. In Senegal, the prevalence rate of albinism is difficult to quantify. But according to the National Agency of Statistics and Demography (ANSD), the number of people reached is estimated at 2040, while the president of the National Association of Albino Senegal (ANAS) advance the figure of 10 500 albino on a population of 15 million.
If the figures differ, there is at least one consistency: the existence of sexual harassment and attempted rape. Until
present, Mame Penda, currently 29, continues to live like a prey in the jungle. Besides, the girl has no illusions about the motives of her predators. « I know that all these people have only one goal, to sleep with me to satisfy a mystical or sexual need and let me go. » Recently, a Senelec agent who lives in Bambey tried the same thing with me. she adds.
Today, these repeated mishaps have set him in a paranoia towards men. « Now I can not trust a man anymore, I can not believe any of their statements. »
Albino girl living in Tivaouane, Sokhna Aminata Lo reinforces the words of Mame Penda. Dressed in a green skirt and a white t-shirt, this student in office approaches the subject with a tearful air. « We suffer a lot of sexual violence in Senegal, we treat albinos as animals, they are subjected to sexual harassment everywhere, » he laments, his voice translating a certain helplessness.
The girl is especially sorry to see some people want to take advantage of their disability to feed superstitions. « Many men who want to go out with us just want to satisfy a sexual need, they feel nothing for us, but they know that we are humans before being albinos. » We want to be mothers « , she says, like a cry of heart.
« I can not trust a man anymore »
However, Sokhna Aminata Lô believed for a moment to have found the rare bird. A few years ago, she saw a man make advances for over a year. Given her persistence, she figured it might be the right person. « One day, I decided to give him a chance, but soon after he starts to behave in a bizarre way, he does not stop there, he asks me to sleep with him. surprise because in my heart of hearts, I knew that he had only one motivation that is that of satisfying mystical needs.It was from this day that I started to feel my handicap, because if I was considered a normal person, I would not have been treated in this way, « she grieves.
Based on this experience, she is today unable to trust a man. The image of a predator comes back to him permanently. « As I speak to you, I’m afraid of having a relationship because I do not know people’s intentions, » she says.
Mah Keïta: « The guy came to tell me clearly that he wants to have sex with me »
In this lot of victims, there are also stars. Musician Mah Keïta is a former resident of the group « Takeifa ». She has managed to make a name for herself in Senegalese music circles. To get there, it needed to be firm enough to keep predators away. One day, she was approached by a man at the university. The latter then holds him a surprising language. « I was only 19. The guy came to tell me clearly that he wants to have sex with me because he wants to be rich, he did not even go around the bush, he told me directly, and he really wanted his proposal. » The reaction was then up to the affront. Today, Mah Keïta tells the story while laughing, but that day, she used a death threat to get rid of her vis-à-vis.
It must be said that despite their respective mishap, these three interlocutors are rather lucky. Others have lived worse. « Most albinos who are victims of these sexual abuses come out with unwanted diseases or pregnancies, » sighs Mah Keïta.
Thus, the daughter of the commissioner Cheikhouna Keïta asks all those people who think to sleep with an albino to become rich, to recover. « If that was the case, all the albinos would be rich, you see, I have long hair, if it made me rich, I would be a billionaire, and most albinos live in poverty, » he says. -she.
Raby, the joy of living
Yet, there are those who try to live their lives without worrying about all these superstitions that revolve around their disability. Among them, Raby Diop, this 19 year old girl. This resident of Nasrou district of Thiès comes from an albino father. On the latter’s advice, she resolved to ignore all the remarks, no matter how derogatory. « I do not even pay attention to the beliefs around albinism, in the street we hear too many negative things because of our illness, but we do not even listen to them. » The only difference we have is the skin ».
Unlike those who live a permanent anxiety, the young Raby even displays an overflowing joie de vivre. Perhaps also because his knowledge of this reality is limited to cases heard that-and-there. « I have never experienced sexual violence, but I always hear about that. All those people who think that sleeping with an albino can make rich are uncultivated. I feel bad when I hear these kinds of speeches, « said Raby sadly.
« Many sexual infections among albino girls »
For Mohamadou Bamba Diop, president of the National Association of Albino of Senegal (ANAS), before the issue of human rights became a major topic, sexual violence was often settled amicably, through a religious authority. In other words, if someone raped an albino woman in a community to which the police or the gendarmerie could not intervene, it is often the religious leaders who were involved to resolve the situation. « And the only loser is the albino woman who ends up with a baby without a father, » regrets the president of ANAS.
Especially when it has no protection. This is the case of an albino mental patient in Thiès, who has been aggravated five times: « She now has 5 children from rape, she had finally gone mad because of multiple sexual assaults and was taken to the center. « Dalal Xel » for treatment, but unfortunately it was impossible to get her to take medicine, and if she was brought to the hospital, she would automatically refuse to eat and people would not take the risk of let her die, « says Bamba.
During an election period, the risk is even greater. Bamba then alerted Thies police to be placed in the center. « She was very aggressive and insulting all the people passing by, she even insulted the staff of the hospital that was treating her, sometimes she went out naked in the streets. »
To those who think that sleeping with an albino cures AIDS, Diop makes them understand that they are only involved in spreading the virus by passing it on to innocent people. « In 2007, an anti-Aids organization ran a screening campaign and found a lot of sexual infections among albino girls, where it was realized that albinos are being abused by people who do not marry them « .
Member of the Research Group on Women and Law in Senegal (GREFELS), Aissatou Cissé argues that the sexual rights of young virgin albino girls are increasingly violated in Senegal, especially during elections, for sacrifices . A situation that, although worrying, is far from what is happening in Congo or Tanzania where virgin albino girls are sacrificed without hiding the abuse during ritual sacrifices to have a comfort of life.
The steps of the care
Psychologist Abdoulaye Cissé explains that harassment and rape are experienced differently by albinos. « In reality, it’s two different facts because rape, beyond the physical stigma, reaches the mental state of the victim.It is not often the case for harassment.The latter can leave sequels on the psychological and mental plan but not on the sexual plane, « he explains.
According to him, the victim of rape must be assisted at the medical level, while the victim of harassment does not need medical assistance because there has been no acting out.
Regarding the management of the two cases, the psychologist asserts that the rape victim should benefit from holistic care because rape is an offense in Senegal, so from the point of view of the law, if the act is attested, there may be legal proceedings. Then, there is a health care, that is to say, to try to see if the rape has not left a legacy or pregnancy.
« The last step is a purely psychological treatment.The girl who has been a victim of rape may have psychic traumas, but there is a protocol of care for the victims that consists in welcoming her at the level of the structures of the victim. care, reassurance and finally establish a treatment protocol.The process that can go up to 3 months will allow the girl to gain self-esteem, to lead a normal sex life, « says Cisse.
Mahmadou Mbodj, a psychiatrist by profession, says: « In the African environment, where human reality always coexists with that of invisible spirits, albinos have often been seen as separate, from the other world »
In Senegal, there is no specific law dedicated to the protection of people living with albinism. However, the Social Orientation Law No. 2010-15, on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, guarantees the promotion and protection of their rights against all forms of discrimination. « Are considered as discriminatory, all the provisions or acts that have the consequence, the exclusion or can cause the reduction of chances or harm to disabled people », stipulated the law. It is not clear, however, that this law is enough to provide albinos with the protection they need against sexual predators.