Three former participants in Tostan’s human rights-based education program, the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), from Keur Issa, Senegal were featured in a video and series of articles on TrustLaw, an online resource that provides access to free legal assistance, news, and information on good governance and women’s rights. These articles and video are part of a TrustLaw special multimedia report on child marriage. This report aims to increase people’s awareness of the realities of child/forced marriage and to highlight those who are working to end this practice.
The first article, “Q+A: On the frontlines of Senegal’s child marriage battle,” highlights an interview between; Astou Gueye, president of the Keur Issa’s women’s group; and Maimouna Diallo, a member of the village’s women’s community mobilization group; and George Fominyen, the article author. The two leaders, alongside other community activists in their village, lead a group of women who travel to surrounding villages and together raise awareness about the negative impact of child marriage.
When asked the challenges they face in this work, Maimouna Diallo explained that “in the beginning it was really tough because there were many people who were not ready to change. But since the people decided as a community to abandon the practice of child marriage [their] work is easier and [they] have greater success.”
The second article entitled “From child bride to Senegal rights crusader” and accompanying video feature the efforts of Fatou Diakhate to encourage her community to abandon the practice of child marriage. Reflecting on what she learned about health and human rights from the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), Fatou Diakhate said, “We realized there are lots of problems with child marriage and that it wasn’t good at all for girls to be married early.”
Once Fatou and other community members recognized the negative health consequences of child marriage, they began to share that knowledge with others. In 1998, after many, often difficult community discussions, the entire community decided to declare their abandonment of this practice. The accompanying video, “Fatou’s story: Child bride to rights campaigner,” captures Fatou telling her story of success firsthand.