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What’s Prompting the High Rate of Infanticide in Senegal?

Photographer Maroussia Mbaye spoke to women who said crushing social stigma, poverty and lack of traditional support systems had left them with no choice but to commit infanticide. Mbeubeuss is one of the biggest rubbish tips in Africa and Senegal’s largest open cemetery for murdered children. In the past three years, the bodies of 32 infants have been recovered from the site by the waste-pickers who work there. Religious conservatism, economic hardship and a lack of access to contraception and sex education in Senegal are leaving many women feeling isolated. In the past, girls could turn to la Badiane – their eldest aunt – who would teach them about sex and contraception as they approached puberty, even taking them to initiation retreats for months at a time. Just as the family support has ebbed away, neither is there psychological support available for these women, or anywhere for them to discuss and share their experiences. Some of the women who have been jailed for infanticide are part of a project being done in prisons by the NGO Tostan, which aims to train as many women as possible through workshops so inmates can earn an income after their release.