I have a friend who had a baby ‘out of wedlock’. Here in Mali that can be seen as many as a dishonour to yourself and your family. Traditional norms very much place emphasis on the status of women as defined by their marital status. Single women should have getting married at the top of their mind because it’s their purpose in life to serve their husband and family. So when/if you get pregnant outside of marriage it makes you less desirable to other men because you are used and have evidence of being with another man. Often in these cases if a woman can find someone to marry her the child will be rejected by the husband and left with parents, aunts, or other family members.
In the case of my friend,matters were even more complicated my friend was still in high school (at the top of her class I might add). When she told her family they were less than thrilled about the matter but she hasn’t given me many details on what that looked like. Except to say, that when she was pregnant everyone expected her to hide at home. They told her that she would not be able to go anywhere or do anything. In light of what everyone toLed her my friend says she did anything she wanted to. She kept going to school (and finished in 1st place) she hung out with friends, she danced, and walked – and did the daily activities of any teenager.
I can’t whelp but wonder what creates these strong people – people willing to go against the curve. I don’t know what creates strong women – who say no to traditional norms. I hope one day we can figure that out and then maybe we can have a more equal footing all around.