The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is the 11th largest country in Africa with 90% of its land within the Sahara. When you try looking up Mauritania on the internet, almost everything you will read about it will conform with the cliched traditions in the other Islamist countries except for one distinct practice. The practice of forced feeding of women.
This practice does back to the 11th century and is traditionally called as Leblouh. It is done in order to reflect a wealthy family background as in Mauritania, high body volume is a sign of wealth.Also, strangely, for Mauritanian men stretch marks are sexy and big is beautiful. As it may sound funny or weird, forced feeding in Mauritania is very disturbing and is done in a very brutal manner. Young girls are forced fed a diet of up to 16,000 calories per day.
The older women referred to as “Fatteners”, feed the girls forcibly enormous quantity of food and liquids.They are made to eat until they vomit and sometimes, even after that. The girls are even inflicted with pain if they don’t eat or drink accordingly. One way of punishing the girls is “zayar” whereby, two sticks are inserted on each side of a toe if the girl refuses to eat or drink.
It is rather horrifying to know that girls from the age of five are made to consume a daily diet of two kilos of pounded millet mixed with twenty liters of camel’s milk and two cups of butter which comes up to 16,000 calories per day. According to women’s right campaigner Mint Ely, Leblouh is an attempt to groom young girls for marriage as in Mauritania, obese women are dearly desired by the men.Also, there is a belief in the land that the size of the women indicates the space she occupies in her husband’s heart. Therefore, this is done in order to ensure no other women can have room in her husband’s heart.
Mauritania, where problems of poverty and slavery co-exist, the concept of human right has kept on been eroded. Where the world is busy talking and discussing the bigger problems in the world, the brutality faced by the young girls by their own families in the name of their own goodwill is somewhere ignored and being forgotten about.