Some West African women take pride in being beaten

Some West African women take pride in being beaten
Special Operations Forces deployments in 33 African countries in 2016. (Map credit: The Intercept)

Some cultures are very backward. Wife-beating is “a source of pride for some in Mauritania,” an arid country in northwest Africa, notes a recent news story from Reuters:

Salimata was always told she should be proud to come from a family of wife beaters.

“You’re the daughter of a woman whose husband broke her hands. Your grandmother’s legs were fractured by her husband. You must be loved,” Salimata said, citing her mother’s words.

The 19-year-old woman from Mauritania’s Soninké ethnic group, married to a man who also beats her, said she taught herself to believe what her mother told her.

“I felt like an animal that had to be disciplined,” she said.“As time passed, I came to believe that my husband beats me only when he is at the peak of his love for me.”

As Reuters explains, not all ethnic groups in Mauritania condone domestic violence to this degree. Injuring one’s spouse is “frowned upon” by the Moors, Mauritania’s largest ethnic group (those who are partly or wholly of Arab or Berber descent). But for Mauritanians of exclusively “African descent such as the Soninké and Fulani,” who comprise 30-40% of Mauritania’s population (and also live in neighboring countries), it is a different matter.

Wearing a colorful scarf that shows her Fulani heritage, [Aichetou] Samba smiled and said:“A Fulani woman always takes pride in being beaten by her husband,” and often shares her experiences with other women to show off his love for her.

“This is one of our traditions,” she said.“We see wife-beating as a common and normal practice, which sometimes includes pouring cold water on the wife’s body.”

Are these attitudes something to take into account in our immigration policy (in terms of whether to restrict immigration of such populations)? In a 2013 post, law professor Eugene Volokh notes that “unregulated immigration can dramatically change the nature of the target society,” and “Letting in immigrants means letting in your future rulers.”

Much of Mauritania’s population would emigrate to Europe or the United States if they could, given their country’s low income and high unemployment rate. Indeed, thousands have illegally entered countries like Spain.

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle

Jerome Woehrle is a retired attorney and author, who writes about politics.


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