“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 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.”
“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).”
“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