Women in Mauritania

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Women in Mauritania
Mauritanian women.jpg
Women in Atar, Mauritania, 2006
Gender Inequality Index
Value 0.643 (2012)
Rank 139th
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 510 (2010)
Women in parliament 19.2% (2011)
Females over 25 with secondary education 8.0% (2010)
Women in labour force 28.7% (2010)
Global Gender Gap Index[1]
Value 0.5810 (2013)
Rank 132nd out of 144

Issues impacting Women in Mauritanian society include female genital mutilation,[2] child marriage,[3] and polygamy.[4]

The practice of Leblouh (Arabic: البلوح‎, translit. lə-blūḥ) is the practice of force-feeding girls from as young as five, through to teenagers, in Mauritania, Western Sahara, and southern Morocco, where obesity is traditionally regarded as being desirable.[5][6][7]

Older women called "fatteners" force the young girls to consume enormous quantities of food and liquid,[8] inflicting pain on them if they do not eat and drink. One way of inflicting pain is to pinch a limb between two sticks. A six-year-old might typically be forced to drink 20 litres (4.4 imp gal; 5.3 US gal) of camel's milk, and eat two kilos of pounded millet mixed with two cups of butter, every day. Although the practice is abusive, mothers claim there is no other way to secure a good future for their children.[8][9]

The practice goes back to the 11th century, and has been reported to have made a significant comeback in Mauritania after a military junta took over Mauritania in 2008.[8]

Demographics[edit]

As of July 2016, the estimated population of Mauritania is 3,677,293 people. The median age of Mauritanian women is 21.4 years. Life expectancy at birth is 65.4 years. [10]

Women's rights[edit]

Child marriage[edit]

In 2017, 37% of girls in Mauritania were married before the 18 years old. 14% of girls are married before they turn 15.[11]

Polygamy[edit]

Polygamy is legal in Mauritania.[4] A man can marry up to four women, but must obtain the consent of his existing wife/wives first. Polygamy is common within the Afro-Mauritanian and Berber Moorish population, occurring less frequently among the Arab Moorish population.[4] A 2007 MICS3 reports that 10.7% of women aged 15-49 are in a polygamous union.[4]

Female genital mutilation[edit]

Female genital mutilation is prevalent in Mauritania.[12] 71% of all women aged between 15 and 49 had undergone FGM in 2001. A 2007 demographic cluster study found no change in FGM prevalence rate in Mauritania.[13] [2] Type II FGM is most frequent. About 57% of Mauritania women believe FGM is a religious requirement.[14]

Mauritania is 99% Muslim. The FGM prevalence rate varies by ethnic groups: 92% of Soninke women are cut, and about 70% of Fulbe and Moorish women. 28% of Wolof women have undergone FGM.[2] Mauritania has consented to international charters such as CEDAW as well as Africa's Maputo Protocol. Ordonnance n°2005-015 on child protection restricts FGM.[15][16]

Force feeding[edit]

Leblouh is the practice of force-feeding girls from as young as five, through to teenagers, in Mauritania, Western Sahara, and southern Morocco, where obesity is traditionally regarded as being desirable.[17][18][19] Especially prevalent in rural areas and having its roots in Tuareg[20] tradition, leblouh is practiced to increase chances of marriage in a society where high body volume used to be a sign of wealth. The synonym gavage comes from the French term for the force-feeding of geese to produce foie gras.

The practice goes back to the 11th century, and has been reported to have made a significant comeback in Mauritania after a military junta took over Mauritania in 2008.[8]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/. (data as of 1988)

  1. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013" (PDF). World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  2. ^ a b c Female Genital Mutilation in Mauritania Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany (September 2011)
  3. ^ Chata Malé; Quentin Wodon (March 2016), BASIC PROFILE OF CHILD MARRIAGE IN MAURITANIA (PDF), World Bank Group 
  4. ^ a b c d http://www.genderindex.org/country/mauritania#_ftn17
  5. ^ Popenoe, Rebecca. 2004. Feeding Desire: Fatness, Beauty, and Sexuality among a Saharan People. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415280969.
  6. ^ De mujeres abundantemente hermosas (Abundantly beautiful women)
  7. ^ LaFRANIERE, SHARON. In Mauritania, Seeking to End an Overfed Ideal, The New York Times, published on July 4, 2007. Accessed on June 30, 2011.
    • "Girls as young as 5 and as old as 19 had to drink up to five gallons of fat-rich camel’s or cow’s milk daily, aiming for silvery stretch marks on their upper arms. If a girl refused or vomited, the village weight-gain specialist might squeeze her foot between sticks, pull her ear, pinch her inner thigh, bend her finger backward or force her to drink her own vomit. In extreme cases, girls die, due to a burst stomach. The practice was known as gavage, a French term for force-feeding geese to obtain foie gras."
  8. ^ a b c d Smith, Alex Duval. Girls being force-fed for marriage as junta revives fattening farms, The Observer, March 1, 2009.
  9. ^ Young Mauritanians reject forced fattening, Al Arabiya, February 24, 2009.
  10. ^ "Mauritania Demographics Profile 2017". www.indexmundi.com. Retrieved 2017-11-16. 
  11. ^ "Child marriage around the world: MAURITANIA", Girls Not Brides 
  12. ^ "FGC Prevalence Rates Diagram", African Women's Health Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, accessed 7 September 2011.
  13. ^ LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM) Berhane Ras-Work, United Nations (May 21, 2009)
  14. ^ Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting UNICEF, (July 2013)
  15. ^ http://www.africanchildforum.org/clr/Legislation%20Per%20Country/Mauritania/mauritania_childjustice_2005_fr.pdf
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ Popenoe, Rebecca. 2004. Feeding Desire: Fatness, Beauty, and Sexuality among a Saharan People. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415280969.
  18. ^ De mujeres abundantemente hermosas (Abundantly beautiful women)
  19. ^ LaFRANIERE, SHARON. In Mauritania, Seeking to End an Overfed Ideal, The New York Times, published on July 4, 2007. Accessed on June 30, 2011.
    • "Girls as young as 5 and as old as 19 had to drink up to five gallons of fat-rich camel’s or cow’s milk daily, aiming for silvery stretch marks on their upper arms. If a girl refused or vomited, the village weight-gain specialist might squeeze her foot between sticks, pull her ear, pinch her inner thigh, bend her finger backward or force her to drink her own vomit. In extreme cases, girls die, due to a burst stomach. The practice was known as gavage, a French term for force-feeding geese to obtain foie gras."
  20. ^ Encyclopedie Berbere: Gavage