In Senegal, infanticide is the second-most common reason women are in jail, coming to second to drug trafficking. In 2015, at least 19 percent of the country’s female prisoners, were there due to infanticide. According to officials in the country, it is a very common practice amongst the women in the country.
Countries with gender selection, such as India and China, families to have boys may choose to kill their infant daughters. However, in Senegal, infanticide has nothing to do with gender, according to experts.
The women who were interviewed for this article will be identified by their first initial. According to a director of a safe house for women who endure domestic violence, women who commit these crimes are not in a healthy psychological state of mind. The media outlets claim that these women are monsters. However, most don’t take the time out to see how these women came to be after carrying their baby for nine months.
Senegal Has High Infanticide Rates
Experts in the area believe that the reason for the high numbers of infanticide is due to Senegal’s strict abortion laws. Some of the women who commit the crime do not have access to a safe abortion. In Senegal, abortions are illegal unless the mother’s health is at risk. Even so, there has to be consent from two doctors and a prosecutor. For many women, this form of consent is impossible to receive. Lawyers, lawmakers, and activist are continuously working to change the law on abortion in the country.
F told interviewers that husband was away looking for work in two different countries for seven years. While he was away, F got pregnant after sleeping with another man only one time. She says that the man was seducing her and she does not know what made her make to choice to sleep with him. At the time, she was living with her in-laws and did whatever she could to conceal that she was pregnant. She continued to deny the pregnancy up until it was time for delivery.
After delivering the baby in her bedroom alone, she fainted. She says that the baby was stillborn. However, in her file, there is a picture of the child’s body after removal from a septic tank.
E was either 12 or 13 when she became married. It wasn’t too long after her marriage did she bare her first child. Her husband died after she bore her third child. She went on to have four more children with another man. However, he became blind, and she was the sole breadwinner. After her eighth pregnancy, and tired from working so much only to earn so little she could not take it anymore. She claims that her baby was stillborn and that she chose to bury him in her yard. Police caught wind two days later, and she was arrested. She was to serve two years in prison, but due to good behavior, she only served three.