The traditional exploitation of gold is now a source of misfortune for children, especially girls, in the gold mining sites of the Kénièba circle (in the Kayes region). In recent years, hundreds of teenagers have left the benches to work in the mines.
Today we will devote ourselves to the case of the girls of the circle of Kenieba.
Gold mining is one of the pillars of the economy in the region of Kayes and particularly the circle of Kenieba. Many people are attracted by this activity: men, women, youth and adults. This situation does not come from today but the phenomenon is growing in recent years. Young people, attracted by the precious metal, have abandoned the fields. The school sector also experienced a high dropout rate due to gold.
The phenomenon takes different forms. In some cases, girls are forced to accompany their mothers in places where there is no school. Others, for the sake of raising money to prepare their wedding trousseaux, voluntarily interrupt their studies. We should also mention the case of girls who keep babies while mothers are busy looking for gold. Women, whose average participation rate on Malian mines reaches 50%, to ensure the washing of sediments.
Today, the future of these children is mortgaged. Worse, marriage in these areas has become difficult. For, the power of money takes precedence over traditional values.
The number of girls on the various mining sites is impressive. Even without statistics, the simple observation shows that the gold mining sites are crowded with girls, while their number is practically insignificant in the classrooms.
These girls are the prey of adults. Some of them do not hesitate to engage in prostitution. Others ensure a real profit from gold mining.
In Sitakili, a village in the Kénièba circle, a 14-year-old girl we met, said she left the benches in the sixth grade of basic education to help her mother in the placers. The work of these women and girls is not limited to washing sediments. They raise the ore from the wells and pass it through the milling machines. Everything that men, women and girls do on these gold mining sites.
In this part of Mali, women bear the bulk of family spending. They take care of the husband and the children and save some of the money for the trousseaux of their daughters during their marriage. Some girls almost replace their mothers in the household, which forces them to drop out of school.