Fatou Warkha Samb is is an activist, a founding member of the #DAFADOY collective, and a ONE Champion. As we celebrate the passage of new rape laws in Senegal, she shares her story.
I live in the suburbs of Dakar, Senegal, where we live side by side with all the evils of the world — poverty, social inequalities and violence. I have seen many women and girls who no longer have a taste for life because they were raped. I live with people who gave up on life and endure all the humiliations of the world because they are used to being abused. I have witnessed what this violence can do in a person’s life, how it can destroy dreams.
As a young person who had the chance to pursue studies, I told myself that I must fight against these evils, especially violence against women, which to me is the most unbearable of all. Now, I am a communications specialist and an activist.
I also work as a founding member of Dafadoy — a collective created spontaneously following the murder of Bineta Camara and Coumba Yade in May 2019. It brings together more than 42 civil society associations and women’s organizations to fight violence against women. Over the past year, we have been campaigning to amend laws in Senegal to increase the sentences for rape.
And I am proud to say that the Senegalese government has stepped up and delivered the message that rape is unacceptable. On January 10, President Macky Sall signed an amended law that says any person found guilty of rape will be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years or a maximum of a life sentence.
What comes next
This is an important victory — but our work is far from over.
As we move to the next steps of advocacy, Dafadoy’s message is simple: Gender-based violence can no longer be ignored. It is a disease that is plaguing our society with consequences that go beyond what we imagine. This violence does not just impact victims, but society overall.
We must put in place the necessary structure and support system to ensure perpetrators can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
To date, Dafadoy has organized a large sit-in that has seen the participation of civil society, parliamentarians, ministers of the republic, and the national and international press.
I remain positive. Even if there is a lot to do, I am convinced that we will have a world where every woman will have the opportunity and be free to reach her full potential.
ONE’s petition with Black Queen proved that our voices matter and our message had a real impact. Now, we will continue pushing to see the change we want come to true.
Read more about how this gender-based violence campaign achieved change.