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Cameroonian novelist fights for women rights through literature

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JOEL SAGET/AFP or licensors

Cameroon

Cameroonian novelist Djaïli Amadou Amal tackles the subjects of forced marriages, domestic violence and polygamy through her literature work. In her book, "Les Impatientes" she explores the implications of early marriage.

"Early and forced marriage remains one of the most pernicious forms of violence because it automatically leads to all the others. Among the violence that it leads to, and which is the logical consequence of everything, and which conditions life, is economic violence. The woman does not have a diploma, she does not finish her studies or she does not learn a trade. Obviously she remains dependent for the rest of her life and because she is dependent she cannot protect herself from violence," Djaïli said.

She created a surprise when becoming one of the four finalists for the Goncourt, the most prestigious French literary prize for her novel "Les Impatientes".

Through the eyes of three women, explores forced marriages, domestic violence and polygamy.

She wants to be "the voice of the women of the Sahel.

"I have messages coming from Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal with all these women who say 'you don't know me but you tell my story anyway, I've been through the same thing, I've been through something similar or even worse'. Because what we say to ourselves when we have an external view is finally 'doesn't she exaggerate a bit?' I can assure you that I didn't dare to put in half of what is really happening because it could have been even more shocking than that," she said.

According to UNICEF, Africa has the highest incidence rates of child marriage, with over 50% of girls marrying under the age of eighteen in five nations. Girls in West and Central Africa have the highest risk of marrying in childhood. Niger has one of the highest rates of early marriage in sub-Saharan Africa

By 2050, Africa will be home to about half a billion girls under the age of 18, according to some report, which said a failure to invest in young women would result in huge economic losses.

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