Taylor Madsen and Daryl Lee, French Department
In the fall of 2010, I spent three months working with Senegalese children both in schools and in daaras. While I taught English and administered basic first aid, I met some of the most incredible people who became my friends. Through their friendships, I gained an inside perspective into the homes, schools, and work places of those friends. In many ways, I felt very enriched by those experiences. However, I sensed occasionally undertones of sexual discrimination that saddened and frustrated me. Upon my return to BYU, Daryl Lee informed me that Fatou Diop, a professor at L’Université de Gaston Berger(St. Louis, Sénégal), had important research on women’s rights in Senegal. Last year we completed the English translation of her research on women’s property rights, which was subsequently published with the WomanStats Project. More recently, Dr. Diop has been studying gender-based violence. Thus, this project is the French to English translation of her work, entitled “Les Violences basées sur le genre au Sénégal: La Prévention comme alternatif aux perils de justice et de sécurité.”
As a team of three translators, we met in order to divide up the document into separate portions for an initial translation draft. Having previously worked together, we better understood the strengths of each member. Thus, Charlotte was tasked with translation of all graphs and charts along with a portion of the text, whereas Danielle and I assumed larger portions of the text. In many cases, graphs needed to be adjusted from a misleading form (pie charts, 3-D graphs, etc) to more accessible and clear versions. In addition to the charts, occasionally, there seemed to be some gaps in the report. Therefore, as we translated, we made notes and collaborated with each other as well as Fatou and Dr. Lee. Over the course of several weeks, the first drafts of 43 pages of research were complete. Those drafts were then exchanged between co-translators and the editing process began. Each of us edited the texts of the other translators while consulting the original document and lexical resources to verify accuracy.
More recently, we have again made contact with Fatou to ask about the text in question and its occasional discrepancies. She has responded that there are some missing portions that she would like to also have us translate as they become available. Thus, while the initial 43 pages are completed, we will refrain from publishing our work with Dr. Hudson and the WomanStats Project until Fatou furnishes us with the additional studies for translation. However, we hope without much delay to have access to her work and to proceed with our publication of the work.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this work has been the sense of personal involvement in a global and important discussion on equal rights. When Fatou Diop came to BYU in October to present her work to the university, we had the privilege of exchanging different narratives about women’s rights. The occidental version of feminism at its extremes has often pushed women to abandon traditional roles of marriage and motherhood in exchange for freedom to pursue her career and ambitions. Conversely, Fatou warned that women seeking liberty for such pursuits often resort to polygamy in Senegal. The condition of polygamy for them satisfies a deep cultural need for marital status while also ensuring the shared burden of caring for the husband. With more time, these modern women leave home to pursue their education and career while another wife stays at home. This practice of modern polygamy and others are some of the practices evolving to conform to unhealthy societal pressures and yet achieve desired freedom. Nevertheless, it is doubtful that all wives in such an arrangement attain true freedom from the oppressive disparity between men and women in Senegalese society. Rather it is a shift from one woman to another, or several others.
Having translated Fatou’s work on gender-based violence has made certain truths very evident. Firstly, despite a renewed interest on a national and international level, many women and children are still suffering from their undermined role within Senegalese society. Secondly, while there are organizations in place to report violence, treat victims, and perform legal work for such disempowered persons, the barrier of social and cultural mores run have a significant impact. Many of these victims simply refuse to report violence or seek help. Moreover, when they do, there are financial and social hurdles. Without a change in basic gender paradigms, a certain portion of gender-based violence will continue to afflict Senegal.