Tales of women at Sea


42 years old, Côte d’Ivoire

travelling with her two daughters, 20-year-old Miriam and 18-year-old Kadi  

A mother of four, Bintou decided to leave when, following her husband’s death, her in-laws decided to take her children away from her and force her older daughter, Miriam, to marry. Taking her two older daughters with her, she headed for Libya, leaving behind her two younger children, a girl and a boy. 

When they entered Libya, they were arrested and put in prison. "In Libya, because there is no government, everyone is a policeman. Even when they catch you, you do not know who the real police are... They caught us and put us in a small hut – men, women, all together. It was very hard. Some young men broke down the door and we ran away." 

I would like my children to grow up to be somebody

Having escaped prison, Bintou and her daughters worked at a man's house, even though he did not pay them. He knew they wanted to cross the sea. One day, he took them to a boat waiting on the shore. It was their first attempt to cross the Mediterranean.  

Bintou has not seen her two youngest children in the two years since she left Côte d’Ivoire. "I would like my children to grow up to be somebody. When I was a child, I experienced a lot of bad things. My mother was blind. She had 15 children but only three survived. I was the only girl. I was married by force. I did not go to school. I want to send my children to school. I do not want my children to be married by force like I was. I don’t want my girls to have a life like mine.”