Police checks are everywhere in Mali. To cross the bridge dividing one side of the city from the other (similar in distance to the bridges between Halifax and Dartmouth NS) you pass at least three if not four police check points.
Most of the time this is a discussion between the car’s driver and the police officer but sometimes they will ask to see your ID and make sure everything is in order. Though, to be honest the police here don’t seem to know what they are looking at when you hand them your foreign Licence or ID, so I sometimes think it is just a chance to learn your name.
The other night I was pulled over in my taxi on my way home from my friend’s house and the police started in on me. Greeting me with a joey tribbianni “ah la blanche, comment ca va?” (Oh white woman, how are you?) the officer told me he has been waiting a long time to find a white wife so now I need to marry him. When I was curt but courteous that I was not interested in marrying him he persisted thinking it was a joke. It was only when I said I am in a rush and asked if there was some other way I could help him that he understood I was not pleased and let me go on my way.
I know that gender inequality exists because I live it (even in my priviledged life) everyday. That man saw my skin decided that a conversation was worth more than my time, and decided for me who I would talk to in that moment – him. For me, I want to live in a world we have a common respect for one another despite our gender or our background, a world where we are not objectified based on gender, skin colour, or passport. For him, I guess it’s just a numbers game. Sooner or later if he asks enough white women one of us will say “Well heck yes! I have been waiting for a sexually harassing corrupt Malian police man to sweep me off my feet. Let’s get married right now!”
One day we will figure this gender thing out. It’s got to get better from here right?