• 52'
  • Authors : Charles Comiti, Julien Boluen
  • 20-03-2022
  • Master : 3174


In the Ivory Coast, love is a journey made up of contrasts, between greater sexual freedom, women’s emancipation and taboos and persecution. Up till now, men were the orchestral conductors in the game of seduction… but now it’s the turn of young Ivorian women to notch up a string of conquests. It’s the “mougoupan”, which means enjoy without becoming attached, then disappear. That is Madoca’s speciality. She’s 23 and it’s her way of claiming her independence.


Because in this part of Africa, the condition of women is not always easy. We followed activists fighting against “the school of life”: camps for 13-year-old girls, where, over two weeks, they are taught submission to their future husbands. We also met activists battling against forced marriages in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. We went to the area most affected by the practice, a region where it is not unusual to meet 12 to 16-year-old girls already married and pregnant.


In the Ivory Coast, however, people are marrying increasingly in the Western way, like James and Cynthia, in white, with bridesmaids and groomsmen. But that doesn’t exclude the tradition of the dowry. In particular, it’s a question of the groom thanking the bride’s family for having raised their daughter well. A compensation that may take the form of a considerable sum of money or, in the villages, just a goat or a barrel of beer. Officially, polygamy is banned by law in the country, but, nevertheless is it still widely practiced. A real headache for Alexis, very much in love… with both his wives and who has to do a daily juggling act to avoid arousing too much jealousy. But for him it’s an economic necessity, an indispensable prop for working in the fields and domestic tasks. A logic that will lead him into marrying his own mother…


However, practices are changing and now they go hunting the “black cats”, abusers who sneak into a young girl’s bedroom at night to take her by surprise and rape her. In the old days, the practice didn’t shock anyone. But now, attackers often appear before people’s courts. If the attacker is found guilty, he is subjected to a collective punishment: 50 strokes of the cane administered by the “strongest lads” in the village.

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