As part of our Every Last Child campaign, artist and photographer, Delphine Diallo, photographed young women and girls – survivors of sexual violence and abuse – at La Maison Rose, a shelter in Dakar, Sengal, supported by Save the Children.
Here, young women, many of whom have children of their own, are given the practical and emotional support they need to rebuild their lives as survivors of child sexual exploitation.
Self-expression through art
Diallo held workshops at the shelter to get to know the young women and help them express themselves and their experiences through collage.
The result is a powerful collection of images that tell extraordinary stories of child poverty, pain and hope.
‘Sometimes photography is too basic to tell a story,’ says Delphine, who encouraged the women to make collages so that the images became their own.
Telling children’s stories in this way is a powerful form of expression for each young woman and girl featured.
Penda* didn’t want to have sex before marriage, so when a taxi driver raped her and she fell pregnant, she felt too ashamed to tell her family.
A health worker referred her to La Maison Rose. She says, “It’s nice here. They have security do no one will come into the house who’s not supposed to.
“We have a lot of support and structure to our days and my pregnancy is being monitored. I would like to stay here, continue my hairdressing training and work until I’m strong enough to support us both.”
Anta* was raised by her grandparents after her mother passed away. She has two children and is now pregnant again, but her boyfriend’s family didn’t support their relationship so they broke up.
Anta was sleeping on friends’ floors when she was referred to La Maison Rose.
Anta says, “I’m so grateful to be here – they’re taking care of me and they’ve set up my hospital consultations. They always help, no matter what’s wrong.
“I want to keep the values they have taught me so I can inspire other girls.”
When Marieme* was 13 and living on the streets with her mother, she was raped and fell pregnant.
Now she’s living at La Maison Rose with her son Mohamed, and is slowly learning to believe in herself again.
She says, “I had nowhere else to go but they took me in and saved me. I am wealthy because I have the love of my child. I feel like I know a path I need to steer my son on to have a good life.”
Interested? Read more:
- Alone in Iraq: What’s next for Syria’s child refugees?
- Saving Amena: One girl’s journey from Syria to Europe
- Dog bites and police brutality: Europe’s child refugee shame
*Names changed to protect identities.