Enforcing the rights of children across borders
What was Bibata’s situation before ISS got involved?
Until she was 12, Bibata lived happily in the Muslim community in her Burkinabe village, Bazoulé. Her father had two wives and 17 children to bring up. Bibata was the eldest of her mother’s four children and went to school each day. One day, her aunt arrived from neighbouring Niger to visit her sister (Bibata’s mother). The aunt suggested to Bibata’s father that she take the girl back with her and send her to a better school in Ouagadougou.
But, without the father's knowledge, the aunt told her sister that she was actually hoping to keep Bibata with her so she could help her with chores. Bibata’s mother put pressure on her to go, so the girl was forced to leave her family, friends and village for an unknown destination. Once she arrived in Ouagadougou, she quickly realised that they were only going to be stopping off there briefly and her aunt had no intention of sending her to school. Indeed, the next day the child was put on a bus to Niger.
In Niger, Bibata had a miserable existence. She was insulted, beaten and abused by her aunt, couldn’t go to school and was forced by her aunt to cook, clean and do laundry for her two sons and husband. The husband was an alcoholic who beat his wife. The latter then took it out on her poor niece.
What did you do to help this girl in her distress?
One day, when Bibata’s aunt was out, a neighbour shocked by the abuse reported it to the police. Bibata was taken away by officers from the ANTD (Nigerien Association for Combatting Delinquency and Preventing Crime), an organisation supported by ISS’s West Africa Network for the protection of children (WAN).
After a short while, she was taken to Burkina Faso by the local WAN representative, where she was handed over to the Ouagadougou Red Cross Centre.
Were you able to return the girl to her family?
Bibata was able to return to her village and family a few days later. She is now back at school and has finished the primary level with flying colours. She is keen to get into college and also to train in cloth dyeing. Bibata is blossoming in the heart of her community.