Force Feeding Girls for Marriage

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 02:18 a.m. EDT, 11 April 2010

Force Feeding for Marriage, Niger, Africa, Photo by Peter OleMAURITANIA, West Africa – Thousands of young girls in the West African country Mauritania, continue to be subjected to the cruel practice of gavage or force-feeding to make them more desirable for marriage.

Every year girls as young as five are routinely forced to undergo the traditional practice of Leblouh so they will be fat enough to secure a larger dowry for their families.

This inhuman practice of force feeding girls, often until they vomit, is as reprehensible as another predominant cultural practice of genital mutilation. Both practices seek to enrich the family through dowries because the girls have been physiologically altered to inflate their marketability to perspective husbands.

Even more traumatic and heart-breaking, is the fact that the perpetrator of these indignities are not strangers, but the mothers and other female members of the girls’ immediate and extended family. It is a vicious cycle that becomes a twisted rite of passage wherein the victim becomes the victimizer.

Although the Mauritanian government denies that the practice continues while clerics assert that it is contrary to Islamic law; it is a country with over 50% unemployment and vast rural areas populated by nomadic people who live in abject poverty.

It is within this context that obesity among children and the plague of poor body image among women has recently captured international attention. Historically, woman have struggled against fickle standards of beauty established by male perceptions and desires, and promulgated through various mediums and industries.

Currently, in the West an inverse standard of beauty exists as ‘waifs’ adorn our advertisements and daily assault us through film and video. Thinness has become synonymous with status and wealth, and is yet another way for people in America to discriminate.

In Mauritania and other parts of the world where fast food is not readily available, it is very difficult to gain weight. However, in America poorer women and their children are most susceptible to the accessibility, ease of obtainment, and low-cost of fast food and other non-nutritious food products.

Based upon my experience, the cost of eating healthy, buying organic, and supporting local producers and farmers comprises an astounding 30% of my monthly income. For most people in this country, especially in these challenging economic times, this type of expenditure is impossible.

Thus, when the effects of unhealthy diet manifests in obesity and the attendant physical and health challenges, becomes yet another identifier in class distinction. More about this subject of food in America can be explored by watching the movie “Fast Food Nation,” by Eric Schlosser.

1 2 Next Page »

, , , , , , , , , , ,

About Ayanna Nahmias

Ayanna Nahmias was interviewed on Radio Netherlands Worldwide program titled 'The State We’re In,' about her life in Africa and her determination to transcend her past. She started the Nahmias Cipher Report to provide information to readers about life in emerging economies, and to provide alternative insight into the challenges faced by women and children living in these countries. The blog features stories from around the world to inspire other people to persevere and triumph in the face of great adversity. She blogs about current events in emerging economies, international politics, human rights abuses, women’s rights and child advocacy.

View all posts by Ayanna Nahmias

3 Comments on “Force Feeding Girls for Marriage”

  1. Ethiopedia.blogspot Says:

    This is a very interesting article. In Ethiopia, certain rural areas still practice female circumcision and being full figured is seen as a sign of beauty. When the Italians waged five years of fascist terror in Ethiopia, they in fact selected the heavy Ethiopian women for spouse and it is commonly said in Ethiopia that being thin is a sign of poverty and disease. A woman who has been also revealed to be uncircumcised (by friends and men) is rediculed and unwanted by men . Ofcourse this taboo is changing but it will take a long time.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2010 in review | The Nahmias Cipher Report | Africa | Art | Geopolitics | Music | Poetry| True Stories - 04/01/2011

    [...] Force Feeding Girls for Marriage April 20102 comments [...]

  2. Tweets that mention Force Feeding Girls for Marriage « The Nahmias Cipher Report | Africa | Art | Music | True Stories -- Topsy.com - 11/04/2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by rlbates, Ayanna Nahmias. Ayanna Nahmias said: Force Feeding Girls for Marriage: http://wp.me/pBKZS-1Cn [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,869 other followers

%d bloggers like this: