enter image alt text
Parents need to understand

“I want our parents to understand that us girls have the right to speak and express ourselves freely about things that affect us,” says Djiba. Her birth was never registered. She has also been subjected to female genital mutilation and has to work very hard at home. And her right to be heard is not respected.

“I lost my mum when I was seven. Now I live with dad and his new wife. I’m treated differently to my stepmother’s children, because I’m not her real daughter. I do all the household chores, grind millet, maize and peanuts. As soon as I get home from school I have to start making dinner. I have to finish the dishes and washing early to have time to gather wood in the forest and be back home before dusk. If I don’t wash my siblings’ and parents’ clothes, I will be punished.”

“I really like going to school, because I can forget about all the housework there and have a rest,” says Djiba.

Supporting other children

Since the WCP Program came to Djiba’s village in Senegal she has been an active member of both the WCP Child Rights Club and of the club’s children’s group. Children can come to the group when their rights have been violated to share their experiences. Djiba and her friends listen. Then they tell local leaders at school and in the village about the children’s problems. They work together to try and find solutions to improve the situation.

“I really like going to school, because I can forget about all the housework there and rest. Last year I missed the exams, but this year I’m going to do my best to succeed, because I want to be a teacher like our head teacher.”

Djiba and her friend Diouma are at the river doing the dishes and washing clothes.

Dangerous journey

When Djiba was nine years old, she travelled to Guinea, another country in West Africa, for the summer holidays. “We have relatives there,” explains Djiba, who had travelled there on lots of previous occasions with her family. “I had no idea what was waiting for me that year. When we arrived at the village I met lots of girls of my age. The next day there was a party in the village, with tam-tam drums and dancing. My aunt took me into a hut where there were three women waiting. They’re called cutters. One of them held my mouth and said: ‘Don’t scream otherwise the others will laugh at you because you were the only one who screamed’.”

“I think it’s done for the parents’ honour, so they can find a husband for their daughter, and that’s why we’re subjected to female genital mutilation. If you haven’t been cut, you might not be able to join in preparing food at parties and ceremonies, it’s like you’ve shamed your family and you won’t be respected. Most girls my age in our village have been cut. But I don’t think it’s at all normal to do this to us girls. I want female genital mutilation to be stopped. Some girls become ill when they get back home. Many find it hard to walk and sit. Sometimes girls die. We’re taken to Guinea because in Senegal the parents can by arrested by the police if they find out they’ve subjected their daughters to female genital mutilation (FGM is illegal in Senegal, but not in Guinea).”

The right to speak freely

“I think our parents need to be aware of children’s rights so we can put a stop to female genital mutilation and solve other problems. For example, the fact that us children have the right to say what we think and be listened to. Adults don’t listen to children at home, and girls in particular have no right to speak up. I want my parents to understand that I have the right to speak freely. If the adults don’t let us children say what we think, then we just blindly do what we’re told, like a flock of sheep.”

“I want to carry on studying so I can help girls and women have better lives and be involved in making decisions. A girl shouldn’t be forced to marry a man that she hasn’t chosen herself.”

Djiba, 13, Senegal

Related stories

Långgatan 13, 647 30, Mariefred, Sweden
Phone: +46-159-129 00 • info@worldschildrensprize.org

© 2020 World’s Children’s Prize Foundation. All rights reserved. WORLD'S CHILDREN'S PRIZE®, the Foundation's logo, WORLD'S CHILDREN'S PRIZE FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD®, WORLD'S CHILDREN'S PARLIAMENT®, WORLD'S CHILDREN'S OMBUDSMAN®, WORLD'S CHILDREN'S PRESS CONFERENCE® and YOU ME EQUAL RIGHTS are service marks of the Foundation.